EDITORIAL: Hands Up, Don't Shoot

8/20/2014, 3 p.m.
The murder of 18-year-old Mike Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 has again torn the scab ...
About 2,000 people gathered in Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park in Northwest D.C. on Aug. 14 to demonstrate against the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, earlier in the month. Nancy Shia

The murder of 18-year-old Mike Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 has again torn the scab off this country’s festering racial wounds.

Angry residents reacted with protests, looting, burning and unnecessary destruction. Local police responded with substantial force as they fired tear gas, rubber bullets and smoke grenades, pointed automatic weapons at protesters, harassed and arrested journalists, fired tear gas at others and tried to block residents from their constitutional right to free expression.

Out of the conflagration bubbles troubling questions about race, the frazzled relations between police and black residents, the treatment of the less-than-well-off and the militarization of police.

Ferguson residents say they’ve been complaining about police harassment and brutality and other issues for years, to no avail.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to replace the police commander brought one day of calm but Police Chief Thomas Jackson’s determination – over the objections of the Department of Justice – to release videos of someone purported to be Brown robbing a grocery store led to more rioting Friday night and establishment of a curfew Saturday.

Local law enforcement has been roundly criticized for its inept response to the unrest and Jackson’s actions are a naked attempt to distract the public from the fact that one of his officers killed an unarmed black teen for no apparent reason.

Jackson has changed his story several times and is using the character assassination of Brown to justify the shooting. That’s what led to more riots Friday night.

Blacks in Ferguson and elsewhere are tired of constant harassment, tired of being seen as guilty, a thug or a criminal for merely walking down the street. Blacks and other Americans are also incensed as young men and women continue to be murdered by police and few are held accountable.

As Ferguson has shown, what happened there could kick off anytime, anywhere in this country and it won’t take much to light the fuse.