I cringed while watching looters on national television smash store windows, stuff pillow cases with stolen goods, and run unrepentant into the Missouri night.
For the second straight evening, police in riot gear barricaded streets and fired rubber bullets and tear gas into an angry crowd of protestors to break up the chaos that has consumed Ferguson, a mostly Black town of 21,000 near St. Louis with one less black citizen after Michael Brown, 18, was gunned down by a police officer last weekend.
Witnesses say Brown was surrendering with his hands up when he was shot, Police say there was a struggle over the officer’s gun and it led to Brown being shot some distance away from the police car where the struggle began.
Tensions are still running high in Ferguson. Police arrested 15 people in the overnight hours Tuesday, following the arrests of 32 people on Sunday. But watching residents loot stores for shoes and hair weaves, throw rocks and bottles and shoot at police helicopters, is a lot to take. It’s irresponsible, unacceptable, and undermines the cause.
How does stealing hair weaves advance the cause for social justice? There will always be those misguided souls who will exploit a legitimate movement as a rationale to misbehave. Simply put, looters are mangling the message.
President Barack Obama must have cringed, too, as he pleaded for calm Tuesday.
“The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time,” Obama said in a statement.
“I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.”