Following Ferguson

Same topic, opposing views

By Joe Carbonari & Tim Baldwin

By Joe Carbonari

 The full facts aren’t out on what happened when an unarmed black teenager was shot dead, with multiple wounds, by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. On the face of it, it looks like overreaction on the part of a scared cop, or a life-ending stupid move on the part of the teenager. Both may be true in part.

What is true for sure is that there is a level of frustration and discontent in many of our black communities that needs to be addressed. Blacks, as a whole, don’t feel like they are getting a fair shake in life, particularly job-wise and police-wise. They’re often right.

To justify slavery, blacks were considered less human than whites, as was reflected in our original Constitution – blacks were counted as three-fifths of a person – 60 percent human for political purposes. They are still under-represented politically, badly so in many suburbs like Ferguson, which were once white towns but through urban out-migration have become majority black – about 70 percent black in Ferguson’s case. The power structure, city government, police, et al. has remained nearly all white. The cultures have differences. Misunderstandings and problems arise. Stress builds.

The governor of Missouri just appointed a black ex-police chief from St. Louis to the state’s top law enforcement job. That’s just a start, and the reaching out has to go both ways.


 

By Tim Baldwin

Having been a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney for over 10 years, I see how many police officers have a dangerous attitude that is aggressive and condemning to the general public. Of course, many minorities are especially mistreated by police. Unfortunately, many “conservatives” are too willing to deny or excuse police brutality. They assume police officers respect the law, the Constitution and citizens as they should, so how dare we criticize police. This is a false and dangerous assumption.

This is why I like Rand Paul. He is a Republican who understands that police can be just as corrupt as anyone else, that we all share the same human nature, and that our criminal justice systems need to be reformed in various aspects. Paul understands the reason that we need police at all demonstrates that citizens must also check police because an unchecked executive branch is dangerous to liberty.

Sadly, the Ferguson event underscores this national trend of police aggression and military-style policing. What is more dangerous than that, however, are juries who give police undue weight and credibility in trial. If you don’t believe it, just wait until you, your family or your friend is arrested and prosecuted.

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