I went to a small college in the south. Once a year during the spring the Fraternities and basically every apartment housing would through a party on Saturday. This had been going on for god knows how long and over the years word of this block party that had nothing to do with the College officially spread to other colleges nearby. So we would have not only our school but nearby schools, community colleges, military schools come to ours and drink from 8am till forever. Cops were on hand but it was anything goes. As long as you weren’t on public property (the streets) you could drink till you blacked out.
As you could guess this got out of control. Day drinking, rival schools and Fraternities, alumni. The party did spill into the streets. All hell broke loose. Cars getting tipped over, couches set on fire, cars set on fire, white chicks throwing up in each other’s hair. It all kind of happened at once and the cops got overwhelmed. They tried to restore peace but it was too late, they were outnumbered. Kids in groups were embolden only because they were in groups and drunk filled with testosterone and rage surrounded by bros. Some were watching, others talking shit about being on their own property, I’m pretty sure I was fucking some girl on the rooftop of my Fraternity house. The single cause of this event, a fucking spring party. That’s it. The cops never harassed us in anyway, there was no social unrest or racial uneasy on campus. You ever see the same thing on other campuses when the home team wins or loses a big game?
Mob mentality is the same no matter what group it is. I’ve witnessed it on a social party level, racial unrest level, or political government over thrown. Knowing friends involved in law enforcement and growing up in a house hold involved in law enforcement I know for a fact one of the scariest things and hardest things for police to control is a mob. A fever takes over, people with gripes, vendettas, and any hang up just show up and things can easily escalate.
So Ferguson is happening. There is now a mob, protesting, rioting, and looting. The place is a nightmare. Here’s the thing, it didn’t have to happen. There are WN out there that want you to think that this is proof that Proximity + Diversity = war. This is complete bullshit. Ferguson is burning because unchecked corrupt government power that goes too far will lead to civil unrest. It’s hard to understand or see systematic oppression at work. You can read crime statistics or see a criminal justice system that treats one group unfairly and shrug it off. Even the group being oppressed won’t do much about it themselves. A town that’s 2/3 black had 98% white police force, white Mayor, white city council? So sure you can live and put up with a system that’s rigged against you for years, you can grow to hate that system and the group that run it (police) but you won’t protest it or do anything to change it. You don’t really fear that system at that point it’s more of a hassle an annoyance. That is until an event happens that’s so shocking, so glaring / daring and in your face that the society as a whole wakes up to a new reality, a next obvious conclusion. That they can kill you they can execute you at will….. and nothing will happen. That optics that each one of your lives is so meaningless, that on any given night, the people your taxes are used to pay their salaries can kill you and nothing will happen to them.
Once you make a group of people feel like their lives are so meaningless and indispensable that they can be executed on site. Then that is the match that will burn a city/community down. Again this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a pattern within that community. It’s hearing stories about prisoners in police custody that get beat while handcuffed then charged misdemeanor for bleeding on the officers uniform. It’s having a police chief get fired after months/years of instructing his squad to go out and arrest black shoppers, to have a black day, to bring some color to the jail. It’s about a system that allowed/ encouraged officers to keep pushing the boundaries until one of them out right broke that boundary that kept a community in tact more or less.
This is about the abuse of power. When a group has the power of life and death over another group and abuses that power resulting in a death, the mob will come. The come because they’ve lost hope in the illusion of justice and fairness. They come because their reality as they knew it was shattered in such a way that nothing else makes sense but to mob up. Do not make the mistake of assuming that everyone in that mob has the same agenda. Some are protesting the killing, others are speaking out against the police department, while others see this as an opportunity to take advantage and help themselves and loot. This is a city’s worst nightmare. Rioters, mixed with protesters, mixed with journalists and kids. This is how a city turns into a warzone. This is a police department’s biggest fear which is ironic because they are the ones that have the power to prevent such events. The thing that prevents our society from falling into anarchy are the constitution, laws/lawmakers, and the people we put in charge of enforcing those laws. Most of all is getting the citizens to believe in this structure. If they do not believe in it or believe that the system is there to purposefully harm/ kill them. The mob will come.
What become apparent is how great the responsibility is that comes with being a police officer. How one action can lead to putting so many other lives in danger along with civil unrest in the community that you’ve sworn to protect. The chain of events that can occur after an unjustified killing is part of the reason why so many officers are trained so well. But that doesn’t matter if they belong to part of a system that doesn’t hold them accountable for their actions. For years this tension and distrust builds up pitting the community against the cops until this. As Jay Z once said, “The streets are watching”. The truth is they don’t forget. They just look for a reason, a match.
My step dad worked and retired from Lorton Correctional Facilities (look it up). The place was hard as fuck, I’m talking real killers and drug dealers. Men doing real time. It wasn’t till I heard about the Stanford Prison Experiment did I understand what happens when you give power to people that can’t handle it. How it does absolutely corrupt. My step dad said some of the guards did horrible things to the inmates. Unspeakable things ranging from daily fucking with them to sick shit. And we’re talking about guys who had years and years to think about what they would do to these guards if they had a chance. Every now and then I walk with my step dad around DC and to this day an ex-con will walk up and quickly address him, “Hey Captain F, aight now”. He doesn’t say much, just puffs his chest out, and gives the guy a nod and keeps on walking chin up. I asked him before if he ever gets scared or worries one of the guys that don’t like him would run into him and want to do him harm. He responded no, he told me that he made sure that he was stern but fair, he remembered to treat them like men, like human beings. He knew that there would be consequences if he abused his power like some of the other guards that maybe one day there wouldn’t be bars or a gun separating him from them. He taught me that men with real power have to deal with further reaching consequences than men with out.