The weekend scene in Ferguson, Mo., was only too familiar: a peaceful protest over the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown turned horribly violent.
It happened a year ago, and it recurred Sunday night in the St. Louis suburb, which has seen more than its share of unrest since the unarmed black teenager was killed by white Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. Wilson, who resigned last year, was never charged in Brown’s death.
A state grand jury and the Justice Department declined to file charges, although the Justice Department did blast the Ferguson Police Department for routinely violating the constitutional rights of black people, using racial profiling to stop, ticket, fine and charge them to help fill city coffers in the town of 21,000 that is 67 percent black.
Brown’s death and the protests that followed over the last year brought long overdue attention to the deaths of many unarmed African American males killed needlessly by police nationwide. But violence like that in Ferguson only detracts from the point that people are trying to make.
Several shots reportedly were fired Sunday night as police tried to break up the crowd blocking traffic and breaking the windows of businesses. One suspect opened fire on police, who then was seriously wounded in the resulting shootout.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said in news conference that more than 40 shots were exchanged. The man in his mid-20s remains hospitalized in critical and unstable condition.
More protests were to occur Monday with a day of civil disobedience planned for the St. Louis area. All of it is to draw attention to the movement, “Black Lives Matter.”
And black lives must matter, but for it to have meaning, it should occur without the violence. The unrest only cheapens the effort and shows that the words are hollow to the very people who need their humanity and their rights elevated to what others enjoy in this country.