Of, by and for the people?

Published 9:27 pm Monday, October 20, 2014

By Joseph L. Bass

Recently Ferguson, Mo., has been in the news.

A white police officer shot and killed a black man. Protests have been conducted; there have been riots and local businesses burned. Local, state and federal investigations are under way, looking into possible police misconduct. A grand jury is hearing evidence to determine if charges against the officer are justified.

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There are some obvious problems with how the Ferguson police department has handled the situation. Within a few days of the death of Trayvon Martin, Sanford, Fla., police had released a large amount of information, including video of an injured George Zimmerman. The department stated there was no evidence that supported charges against Zimmerman.

During the politically motivated, unnecessary trial, the jury found credible evidence that Martin was battering Zimmerman by banging his head on a sidewalk and that the shooting was justified.

The Ferguson police department has released little information regarding the shooting of Michael Brown, the black man shot by the white police officer. From a security camera video, we know Brown had committed a strong-armed robbery in a convenience store just before the shooting.

Police stated Brown was told to stop walking in the street, he attacked the officer in his patrol car, and at least one shot was fired. Only recently has evidence been leaked from the FBI investigation that two shots were fired inside the patrol car and that Brown’s blood was found on the officer’s gun. The leaked evidence also indicated the officer was injured during Brown’s attack on him in the patrol car.

But little more information has been made available. Protests and riots have been based on speculation.

Regardless of the grand jury’s findings or results of the various investigations, all of what is being discussed is missing the most important issue involved in the Ferguson situation.

An American ideal is that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. This is found in Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Civil rights agitators such as the NAACP, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton act as if the Brown shooting took place before the enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Their agitation assumes the Ferguson government is under the control of white people who get to vote, while the black citizens are not allowed to participate in electing their government.

The reality the agitators ignore is that this is 2014. The Ferguson population is 67-percent black, but only 12 percent of eligible voters vote in local elections.

If there is so much unhappiness among Ferguson citizens, whom should they blame? They can look in a mirror to get their answer. Citizens who don’t put forth effort to participate in a government of the people, by the people and for the people shouldn’t be whining about bad government.

If they have bad government and problems with their police department, it is because they have not been responsible citizens.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.