Your Views: Examine our own attitudes when reflecting on Ferguson

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Monday, August 25, 2014

The events in Ferguson, Missouri, are tragic on a number of fronts. The death of anyone under these circumstances is a tragedy. We form conclusions and decide on who is responsible even though we do not know all the facts about what really happened.

Often these conclusions conform to our previous experiences with the police or from our previous attitudes about race. This is true for the public and the police themselves. Forming conclusions about an entire group of people from the color of one person’s skin or from the actions of one law enforcement official is prejudicial and dangerous.

One of the issues concerns the “militarization” of our police forces. It is a fact that we have armed our police far beyond what we would have considered to be acceptable only a few years ago.

Why have we done this? I think one of the reasons might be because we have allowed our citizens to possess weapons that were originally intended only to be used by our military. We cannot ask our police to try to maintain order in a society where assault weapons, for example, are in the hands of the people they are trying to arrest. We can no longer ask our law enforcement people to arm themselves only with a nightstick, a laser and a Lugar.

The emotional aspect of Ferguson will fade in time, but we must continue to examine our own racial attitudes and our attitudes toward members of law enforcement.



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