My first quarter of Sociology Studies at Moorhead State College in the 70’s demonstrated that meeting nonviolent protesters with a militarized police and over the top force (German Shepard Dogs and brutal water canon/riot stick attacks) provoke the mob – not calm the mob.
Mob behavior is dangerous and unpredictable enough without attacks that incitement riot by a badly managed police force.
If it had not been for Martin Luther King’s lifetime effort to keep his followers from violence, many more people would have died and much more property would have been destroyed after Police Commissioner Bull Connor set his racist police force on attack mode to the point the Federal Government had to intervene.
This nation was on fire with the hatreds of long suffering African Americans and a South still stuck in the hard reality that civil rights meant civil rights.
St Louis armored, machine gun bearing, military vehicles and militarized police force have again incited citizens to riot and alert the Federal Government to a growing potential public disaster.
Coming from years as a CASA guardian ad-Litem, child friendly perspective, I see similarities and a correlation between what in business would be labelled “Worst Practices” or, what is happening to the citizens of Ferguson at the hands of an aggressive judicial/policing approach to justice for the citizens of Missouri, and the way America treats children and juveniles.
25% of American juveniles are tried as adults (often 10 and 12 years old), recidivism rates are now at 70% in our prisons -Black men born in 2001 have a 33% chance of incarceration. Almost half of America’s incarcerated youth serve their terms in privatized prisons. Many laboring for as little as one dollar a day.
Thousands of children in child protection systems are medicated by psychotropic pharmaceuticals like Prozac, Ritalin, and Zoloft instead of being treated through mental health programs that could help them gain the coping skills necessary for leading productive lives.
Six million children are reported abused in this nation each year. About ten percent of them receive services in an overwhelmed child protection system. In most states, only the very worst child abuse cases receive any attention.
MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz once stated, “the difference between that poor child and a felon, is about eight years”. I use her quote a little differently when speaking of very young girls in the child protection system; “the difference between that poor child and a preteen mom with no parenting skills, a drug habit, and a violent boyfriend, is about eight years”.
We always have the choice between “worst practices” and “best practices”.
Had Ferguson’s police force approached its citizens with a genuine concern for justice and safety instead of armored, machine gun outfitted vehicles and police ready for war, there would be less rioting, burning, less hating and life would be more peaceful and satisfying for all the people of Missouri (and America) than it is today. That is the difference.
This is also the difference between giving children a chance to have a childhood and gain the coping skills necessary to live a productive life, and the methods we use today instead.
Too many children don’t get help in their abusive / neglectful homes when they are reported to child protection (4 MN counties screen out 90% of child abuse calls).
Too many five and ten year old children are proscribed dangerous pharmaceutical medications without or instead of therapeutic help that could help them cope with their troubled lives.
Crisis nurseries, subsidized daycare, all day kindergarten, prenatal and ongoing health care builds healthy children which leads to healthier and more productive adults and communities that function well (less crime, fewer prisons, and less community unrest).
There will always be best practices and better answers, watch for and support those answers when you see them.
There will also be worst practices and terrible answers, watch for them and speak out when you see them.
We are the people that make a difference.
Please share this article widely and let’s try to make a difference.