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Strong Leadership Needed In Ferguson To Restore Trust, Stability, And Social Cohesion

Dear Editor:

The situation in Ferguson Missouri is chilling, deeply troubling, and shows this community as a microcosm of the deep racial disparities that exist in America.

It brings to the forefront many critically important civil rights issues including use of lethal force by police; allegations of racial profiling and disproportionate use of lethal force by police against African Americans/People of Colour; militarized policing of predominantly Black Communities that leaves racialized communities/Black Americans feeling less secure and under siege by heavy handed policing in Ferguson.

Significant as well, is the quashing of people’s legitimate right to protest police violence. Fifty-years after the US Civil Rights Acts, the actions in Ferguson seem to bring to the forefront that there are still wide disparities in the racial landscape of America.

The use of sound cannons/acoustic sound devices, tear gas, rubber bullets and other militarized weapons and equipment on the streets of Ferguson clearly shows a crisis of the legitimacy and societal inability to foster social harmony and social progress for its citizens, the majority of whom are African Americans.

Right now in Ferguson, serious questions linger regarding the police/law enforcement lack of commitment to respecting the Civil Rights Act, The First Amendment and the Human Rights of Citizens who are protesting the shooting death of Mike Brown. Even the President [of the United States], has appeared on Television a couple times to urge the authorities to respect press freedom, and the rights of people to exercise their First Amendment Rights to peacefully protest.

What has happened in Ferguson has left many across the United States of America, Canada and around the world feeling deeply unsettled that rather than deescalating the situation, the militarized response makes it appear to be lawless enforcement of community safety which has the opposite effect of making communities feel less secured and vulnerable.

It will take strong leadership in Ferguson to restore trust, stability, and social cohesion.

Gary Pieters
Urban Alliance on Race Relations
Toronto, Ontario

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