Friday, August 15, 2014

“Why This is the Most Important Photo from Ferguson”: New York Magazine Writer Has Solution to Ferguson, MO’s Race Problem: Disarm All White Cops, and Put Black Men in Charge; Treat Rioters Like Heroes; and Silence Anyone Who Disagrees with Him

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix


August 15, 2014 9:15 a.m.

Why This is the Most Important Photo from Ferguson

By Jesse SingalFollow @jessesingal
New York

Photo: @jonswaine/Twitter

After watching a disastrous week unfold in Ferguson, Missouri, Americans have been buffeted by an endless stream of horrifying images and videos. A common theme united them: heavily armored police with military-grade weapons and vehicles facing down unarmed peaceful protesters furious over the killing of Michael Brown, and all too frequently firing upon them with tear gas and other “nonlethal” weapons.

The situation could have escalated even further, but yesterday, Governor Jay Nixon finally (and mercifully) ordered the local police stripped of their command. He instructed the state Highway Patrol to pick up the pieces, and that effort was led by Captain Ronald S. Johnson, an African-American who had grown up in the area. Johnson quickly explained that police would no longer be wearing gas masks and would, in short, be taking a much less antagonistic stance toward protesters.

This led to the remarkable photograph above, which was taken by Jon Swaine of the Guardian and tweeted out to his followers:

Jon Swaine        

Highway patrol captain Ron Johnson is leading protesters on a march through Ferguson. A corner turned?

2,067 favorites

The contrast with the past few nights, when police manifested as a menacing, undifferentiated mass of armor and weaponry, couldn’t be starker. Yes, Johnson’s uniform marks him as different from the crowd in an important way, but he’s also a part of it. He’s not setting up off in the distance, behind armor and a bullhorn. The photo shows coordination and cooperation — clearly some sort of negotiation with the protesters took place beforehand, and clearly Johnson communicated that he wanted to be a part of their demonstration rather than a hostile authority figure standing in suspicious opposition to it.

What’s so bittersweet about Swaine’s photograph is that there’s little reason this couldn’t have happened from the start. Instead, the authorities, as is so often the case in an age in which seemingly every small-town cop has access to weapons better suited for all-out war, decided to set up a clear battle line against Them — those dangerous, out-of-control protesters.

In addition to the obvious takeaways about race and police militarization, this week has been an abject lesson in what happens when fear takes hold and strangles empathy. Solving all the deep-seated societal problems that led to Michael Brown’s killing and the subsequent outrages will be unimaginably complicated. What’s in this photo, though, is remedial — it’s about empathy, about treating people like human beings rather than dangerous others. This week, lessons usually internalized by the end of kindergarten were lost amid flurries of rubber bullets and choking hazes of tear gas. But last night, the air cleared; cop and demonstrater could again see each other.

An 18-year-old is still dead, of course, and Ferguson still faces a painful reckoning as the investigation into both his killing and the police’s treatment of protesters ramps up. But hopefully the image of Johnson marching peacefully next to demonstrators will endure, despite all the ugliness we’ve seen.

[Heavily Censored Comments]

Editors' Pick

How much more poignant could this have been if it were one of the white cops who started this mess walking with the protesters?

This comment has been deleted

[The deleted comment was mine:

This is disgusting. The only reason you love the photo is because Johnson is a black man.

You lie about the police “menacing” the “protesters,” when it is the rioters who have been menacing everyone, and threatening to kill cops. This entire article is an exercise in black supremacist fiction.

Here’s the reality: Mike Brown robbed a little, South Asian convenience store clerk, and then tried to murder a cop, who was probably black, since if he’d been white, we would have heard non-stop about the cop’s race.

The implication of this propaganda is that if only the Ferguson PD were in black hands, everything would be copacetic. The truth is that black-run PDs are notoriously racist, corrupt, and incompetent.]


Editors' Pick

Nicholas Stix, Troll

Editors' Pick

This story makes a great case for diversity in police departments.  Could you email it to NYPD headquarters?

jdot718 likes this.

This comment has been deleted

Editors' Pick

Cops need to get back to horses and tasers and away from MRAPs and M16s.

fudgiethewhale likes this


Studleybigg 6 hours ago
Nothing of importance visible.
nicholasstix likes this.

sz0211 5 hours ago

Remove that ugly racist stye from your eye. It will all become miraculously clearer.
ratchetberry and asher2789 like this.

kealoha 7 hours ago
The only thing I can focus on is a real egregious waste of space on that poster board.
JMHBK and sz0211 like this.

JesseSingal Staff6 hours ago
@kealoha Why won't the media focus on the REAL issues here???
mollysgaga, GraduatedAmbition, and hoipolloi like this.

JMHBK 4 hours ago
@JesseSingal @kealoha Well... you're the media! Why won't you?!

JesseSingal Staff3 hours ago
@JMHBK @JesseSingal @kealoha There will be an upcoming SoU expose of protesters' inefficient use of poster-space.

JMHBK 1 hour ago
@JesseSingal @JMHBK @kealoha There'd better be! I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that inefficient use of poster space is the single most significant cause of racial tension in America today.

nicholasstix 3 hours ago
@JesseSingal @kealoha And what might they be?

jdot718 3 hours ago

How much more poignant could this have been if it were one of the white cops who started this mess walking with the protesters?

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