This report, released after an extensive investigation of the Ferguson Police Department by the Civil Rights Divison of the Department of Justice, to some extent vindicates the claims of countless social justice activists who took to the streets in protest after the killing of Ferguson resident Mike Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. Those who doubt the notion that black and poor Americans are unjustly and especially victimized by significant segments of our criminal justice system should examine the contents of this detailed document and reconsider their presumptions. Ferguson, and its problems, are representative of America writ-large. For that reason alone, this report is required reading for conscientious citizens across the country.
The report- http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/ferguson_police_department_report.pdf
In the aftermath of the 1967 race riots, President Johnson tasked a special commission with investigating the root causes of racial strife in the U.S. The commission’s subsequent findings, the strikingly prophetic Kerner Report, were ultimately ignored. Many of the problems that the report argues were afflicting the black American population in the late 1960s continue to plague urban poor blacks today; some of those problems have worsened. Just as the report forsaw, the U.S. government’s continued failure to meaningfully and effectively address these issues has helped permanently stifle the social mobility of many black Americans. For these reasons, coupled with the recent explosion in racial unrest over several racially tinged instances of police brutality, a serious reexamination of the report at this time seems warranted. With any luck, President Obama may soon order the drafting of an updated version of the Kerner Report. In such a case, one would hope that he’d be more committed to pursuing racial justice than Johnson proved to be.
You can see the full Kerner Report here: http://www.eisenhowerfoundation.org/docs/kerner.pdf
Despite the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. once rightly called riots “the language of the unheard,” many in the government, in the media and on social media have been quick to cite him in their chastisement of individuals understandably enraged by Monday night’s non-indictment verdict of Darren Wilson. As is the case with most famous socio-political revolutionaries, MLK’s legacy has, in the decades since his death, been highjacked by the same power elite which sought to undermine and destroy him in his life. Now the forces of reaction pervert MLK’s message of non-violence and use it as a rhetorical weapon against those who would actively fight injustice today.
Let’s not forget that it was the enforcers of “law and order,” members of the same institutions which now decry protestors in Ferguson and across the country as rioters and demand that blacks look to MLK as an example, who were most viciously opposed to King and the civil rights struggle decades ago. This fact is epitomized by a letter, now fully unredacted, to MLK from the FBI. In it, a minion of J. Edgar Hoover, seemingly posing as an anonymous civil rights activist, implores King to take his own “abnormal” life. The full letter, in both classified and declassified forms, can be seen here:
Is nonviolence in response to violent oppression practical? How much progress has America made in terms of achieving racial harmony in the decades since the 1967 riots? How is what happened in Ferguson, Missouri this summer a continuation of a seemingly endless race war in the U.S.? PBS’s excellent “Revolution ’67” attempts to answer these kinds of questions and more.