Ferguson Protestors Are Deluded Fools
They took to the streets in downtown St. Louis on Saturday, coming by the thousands to march in protest. And what was the festering grievance that cohered these marchers, the noble cause that brought them from every corner of the country to the Gateway City? Was it the new war in Iraq? Global warming, perhaps? Or was it a higher minimum wage they were seeking? No, it was none of these things. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells it, they came “to protest the death of Michael Brown and call for an end to police violence nationwide.”
You’ll recall that Michael Brown was the “unarmed black teen” who on August 9 was shot and killed by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Many nights of rioting followed. A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case and its decision on whether the police officer should face criminal charges is expected later this month or perhaps in November.
The crowd was “peaceful and jovial” the Post-Dispatch informs us, and dotted with people who had traveled long distances. “Antonio Cuffee, 30, drove 13 hours from Baltimore with six others to join in the protests,” we are told. “‘We felt we had to come out here to be part of change,’ Cuffee, a policy worker, said. ‘It’s a shame so many black people are getting killed by police,’ he said. ‘Just by the nature of being black we are targeted, we are suspect.’”
The Post-Dispatch also quoted LaDarius Torrey, a sophomore at Georgetown University, who had traveled to St. Louis with two friends. “There’s been a lot of mischaracterizations made about young black males in this country,” Torrey said. “We need to have serious discussions on race or it could get worse. I don’t want to be next.”
There had been a march on Friday as well, this one in the St. Louis County seat of Clayton, where the grand jury has been meeting. And this one, too, brought dedicated visitors from the coasts to the howling wilderness of fly-over country. A Post-Dispatch story on the Friday march brings us 22-year-old Ashely Agbasoga, a student at Brooklyn College, who “drove through the night to get to Clayton for the weekend protests with a professor, his partner and another student.”
And what a rollicking road trip that must have been, with all the vegan snacks being passed around the Prius while Joan Baez tunes and Mumia Abu Jamal’s greatest hits were cranking on the iPods. (You probably can’t pull in NPR very well when you’re passing through Terre Haute in the middle of the night.) “This is the epicenter of the movement against police brutality,” Agbasoga told the Post-Dispatch.
And then there was this, from same story:
A table under one tent was staffed by Holly Wagner, a member of the counseling department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Wagner had brought storage bins containing sand and plastic animals.
In another of the incongruous, if not bizarre, incidents that have sometimes marked the protests, Wagner handed out the toy animals to adult protesters seated at a table. They manipulated the figures under the guidance of Wagner and other graduate students inside plastic bins full of sand.
“We wanted to create a space where people can show with these small toys what they are experiencing,” Wagner explained. “It’s a creative expression technique.”
In any large gathering there are bound to be a few ready targets for ridicule, and grown men and women showing “what they are experiencing” by playing in a sandbox (under the guidance of graduate students!) strikes me as just that. But this is America, and people are free to petition the government for a redress of grievances in any peaceful manner they wish. And better to see them frolicking in the sand than looting and burning the local merchants, right?
But still, the people who marched around St. Louis this past weekend, every single one of them, whether playing in the sand or not, are deluded fools. And even worse, they seek to infect others with their delusion.