Ferguson protests needs leadership and communication
Violent protests like those against the Michael Brown grand jury ruling delegitimize the cause, rather than support it. | creativecommons.flickr
Arson. Looting. Vandalism. The recent grand jury decision to not to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown triggered an array of protest that affects citizens in our country, whether they want involvement or not. Business owners do not want their merchandise stolen and their property damaged in the name of change and frankly, the nature of progress does not warrant destruction in order to move forward. A route of setting stores on fire and stealing merchandise from local businesses easily uproots a person’s livelihood.
Daily broadcast coverage of marches and protests across the country remind people of the L.A. riots and the civil rights era movements. When looking back on these two movements we need to determine what worked and what did not. Overall, it becomes easy to identify forms of protest that spurred progress and kept citizens safe.
The issue at hand demands discussion. However, the methods of communication we see in Ferguson and on the 110 Freeway in downtown L.A. seem more destructive than intended to produce change. It appears impossible to hold a dialogue with a person bent on screaming at the police with clenched fists. Violent protests end up dragging a cause down rather than progressing change. Instead of presenting a cool-headed case that brings awareness to police brutality, the Ferguson protesters start to lose their credibility by acting in a way that misrepresents the people of their city and destroys their community rather than reforming it.
The violence and damage they cause ultimately undermines the original message they intend to send. However, part of the problem seems to stem from the lack of clear leadership to spearhead the action. What is the difference between these riots and the civil rights movement? A unified voice that gave purpose and direction to the screaming, anger and hurt that is wrapped up in the protests. The Ferguson protests need another Martin Luther King Jr. to unite the protesters away from violence and towards effective communication.
The unified voice, purpose and mission differentiates a protest from an anarchist mob. Communication proves vital to change and violence crushes the opportunity for communication. Yes, a man running and stealing a reporter’s phone grabs attention, gluing eyes to screens and ears to speakers, but the whole point of the violence cannot be effectively communicated.
What is needed to unite the protesters, join the individual voices together so the message conveyed will pierce through corruption and layers of red tape to bring change? The simple answer is order and leadership. Without those key pieces, this debate will prove no more than a media blitz of angry protesters instead of a national event destined to bring about change.