Ferguson: racism, police brutality or release of steam?

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enhanced-6991-1408722230-15The New Yorker

By Evaldas Labananauskas

Edited by Andrew Romanov

For more than a month, Ferguson has been on the news in U.S. There are a lot of versions and interpretations of the tragedy. It is most common to say that the accident is related to racism in U.S. But I have a bit different approach.

There are many arguments that support the racist approach. The main argument is that policeman Darren Wilson was white and the Michael Brown – the young man who was killed, was black. In Lithuania, there is a well known a rule: “Don’t argue with American policemen, because they will shut you down.” And we should not forget that Brown was a huge guy. He was 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds. Although the family use to call him a “gentle giant”, but from a security camera video we can see that Brown was not very “gentle” with a shop owner and he looked frightening then was robbing that shop.

But we need to consider that 69% of population in Ferguson is black and only 29% is white, while the mayor, police chief and most local politicians are white. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. Together, African Americans and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up only one quarter of the US population. And one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime.


“Whites committed crimes but blacks are criminals”, as the historian David Levering Lewis has pointed out.

But is the Ferguson case the example of racism? I am not sure that could be proved in court. People used to do very radical generalizations and sometimes it is ridiculous. For example, my wife is part Jewish and sometimes we argue. Does it mean that I am anti-Semitic? No, I am not.

In my opinion, the Ferguson (not the killing, but what happened after – riots and protests) case is necessary for democratic countries and it has more social, not racial background (though racial issues and social issues can have a relation).

The U.S. is a huge country with a population of 320 million people from every corner of the world. All Americans are different and there are a lot of rules and frames, which helps to rule the people and the country. Moreover, there is not any perfect system in the world (democracy is the best, but it is still not perfect). I would suggest that sometimes there should be shocks such as the one in Ferguson. During the shock, one part of the society just releases the steam, because it feels injustice, and later it comes back to normal life. And the other part of the society wakes up, regrets and maybe trying to change something in positive way. In my opinion release of the steam and the implemented changes after the shock helps to survive and to improve the democratic systems.

St. Louis and its surrounding suburbs are highly segregated, with the population of the northern areas, including the city of Ferguson, being heavily black, and the southern and western areas heavily white. philly.com 


4 Comments on “Ferguson: racism, police brutality or release of steam?”

  1. Hi Evaldas,
    I really enjoyed your response. A lot of people, including many Americans, forget that America’s diversity makes its social struggles so different from other nation’s. I also agree that larger events like these are important to start conversations that Americans are not comfortable yet enough to have on a regular basis.

  2. Hello Evaldas,

    It is important to recognize that conflicts may stem from more than one issue and as journalists it is necessary to research the dynamics and contexts of a place and situation. I think you raise some interesting points to discuss the issues in Ferguson, and as Alex commented before me it is important to have these conversations.

  3. I agree with some parts, less with that regarding racism. In my opinion, there is a great deal of racism in this case, and the strong reaction of the community – the one who knows the situation better – talks about that. The debate is useful, we just all wish there is no need for such cases to restart it.

  4. Hello Evaldas,
    I identify with your part about shock, that during shock, one part may snap when provoke or as you put it releases steam, because it feels injustice, and later it comes back to normal life. And the other part wakes up, regrets and maybe trying to change something in positive way. Like you, i think after release of the steam and implemented changes after shock should help all to explore survival techniques and improve or expand the democratic space for all.

    But i have a different outlook about comparing disagreement between you and your wife case with Ferguson, because i think the issue about Fersugon, is about the system’s response,(the system’s form, manner, time and approach to one group) to redress, which if we were to follow pattern, gives a picture of discrimination against one part.

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