Two professors have warned that people should expect Ferguson, Missouri to be like Los Angeles in 1992 after police were acquitted in the Rodney King beating.
Indiana University law professor Jeannine Bell said “The individuals who are protesting now have suggested in speaking to the press given the ongoing protests in Ferguson that that could happen.”
Bell, who is a criminal procedure expert and has written about police crimes and hate crimes, explained that the situation in Ferguson between the community and law enforcement suggests a number of things about problematic inequalities.
“This situation has brought to light the differences between police and residents which suggest that there were preexisting inequalities in Ferguson,” Bell said. “This situation is a marker for what is happening in other local cities across the country.
In the days following Brown’s death, a number of local business were looted, Ferguson police officers approached protesters in military-style gear and equipment creating what some called a threatening presence in the city, and a few members of the media were pepper-sprayed and arrested by officers. Bell stated that all of those incidents and others that have occurred in Ferguson suggest something bigger.
“Now there have been a wide variety of situations in which troubling events have happened since Brown’s death,” Bell explained. “And they suggest a perfect storm could happen if the system in Ferguson, meaning the prosecutor’s office, does what it needs to do to run interference in preventing a huger situation. There is not much to suggest that behind the scenes, the system is doing that.”
Washington University (St. Louis) political science professor Clarissa Hayward warned that it’s “hard to predict” what will happen if officer Darren Wilson is not indicted. She warned of more violence following the grand jury decision.
“If he is indicted those [protests] are not likely to stop. Still, I think that would be a positive thing for the city, because a public trial would introduce much-needed transparency,” Hayward said.
So, despite all the evidence and testimony, we should ignore what a grand jury determines and go forward with a trial anyway … so people won’t resort to violence?
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