I recently had the misfortune of hearing KMOX radio [in St. Louis] while in the car. (Except for some Cardinals games, I haven’t listened to them in years– I stopped when they started carrying Rush Limbaugh.)
There was a “Roundtable discussion” with four people, one woman, one black male, and two extremely conservative (to put it mildly) white males discussing the upcoming grand jury announcement and the news conference to announce some agreement on “rules of engagement” for the protestors. These two men were complaining about who are these people to make agreements like this and how can they be given the right to inconvenience others and they’re holding the whole community hostage. And by the way, in the segment I heard, they never actually said what the agreed-to rules are, which are just some common sense guidelines protecting the protestor’s Constitutional rights while saying the police will do what is necessary to protect life and property. These guys made it sound like the rules call for outrageous unlawful anarchy.
It never even occurs to these jerks to ask themselves who THEY are to complain and question the protestors. That’s because they are two upper class conservative white males who have been given the privilege of having a microphone on a station that thinks carrying Limbaugh is a community service. THEY are the reason protestors are needed! One of them, State Senator John Lamping, got elected (extremely narrowly) by promising to be a moderate Republican who could work with both parties, and then when in office, was a right-wing extremist. Who is HE to lecture on morals and ethics?
The rules were put forward by a coalition of many groups, some longstanding, some new. They pulled themselves together and have become an effective voice for people who have previously been silenced and treated like they don’t matter. Like all citizens, they have the right to petition the government. Neither of these guys would have any problem with an ad hoc group from Ladue demanding gates for their subdivision. And I suspect both of them would have been telling the black residents of Montgomery not to inconvenience the white bus riders.
Yes, I want the protests in and around Ferguson to be peaceful. I don’t want people injured or businesses harmed. But this group of awakened citizens have reached the point where they feel non-violent civil disobedience is the way to be heard, and I sympathize with them.
And yes, I also think they need to register and vote. Of course, in Missouri, that means they might be able to elect some people who will be trivialized and treated like dirt by officeholders like John Lamping. Building support for the cause around here is going to be a long slow process.