Ferguson, Mo., has endured more than its share of violent protest since the death of teenager Michael Brown a year ago. It should not have to mark that event with more bloodshed and property damage.
Unfortunately, that is the scenario that played out, as peaceful weekend protests over the police shooting death of Brown, 18, turned violent Sunday night.
Witnesses described a hail of gunfire, apparently from two groups shooting at one another. Police gave chase and critically wounded Tyrone Harris, 18, of St. Louis. The teenager was shooting at officers as they pursued him in an unmarked vehicle with lights flashing, according to Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County Police Department.
Two other persons were shot on Sunday. Their injuries were not life threatening. And some Ferguson businesses were vandalized. More protests occurred Monday in the St. Louis area, where some arrests occurred.
St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon, and the region sat on edge. A repeat of last summer’s prolonged unrest would be devastating to a region that is trying to move forward.
Brown’s death and the protests that followed over the last year brought needed attention to the deaths of African American males who, like Brown, were killed by police officers. But violence like that in Ferguson only detracts from the quest to stop police shootings.
Brown’s death put Ferguson on the worldwide map as the birthplace of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
And black lives must matter. But for the movement to have meaning, it must grow without the violence. Unrest only shows that the words are hollow to the very people who are striving to make the point.