If someone were to design an event to bolster public support for a militarized police state, what would that event look like? Let us imagine:
- The event involves a controversial use of force by police. The event generates a national controversy and debate — a debate which the government has sufficient evidence to win in the end. After facing criticism, the police demonstrate to the country that they were right and opponents were wrong.
- The “victim” is as unsympathetic as possible; a suspect fleeing from an assault and robbery that took place on camera.
- All the physical evidence supports the official version of events — illustrating how witnesses lie to condemn innocent cops.
- Protests emerge and come off as unlikeable as possible, leaving a trail of theft, violence, arson, and destruction.
- The media ends its silence on police brutality long enough to repetitively lionize the police and decry the actions of the deceased suspect and his violent supporters. The media intensely focuses on the wanton violence and the danger of public protests. Every statist pundit in the country chimes in, reiterating the righteousness of the police and the wrongness those who oppose them.
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This scenario is not hypothetical. It currently playing out in Missouri, after a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson after shooting Michael Brown. Dozens of businesses, buildings, and vehicles have been looted and burned to the ground by the aggressive mobs that have exploited the occasion.
The community has been left in ruins and countless new innocent victims have been created by people professing to seek “Justice for Michael Brown.” Images of smoldering wreckage and tearful shopkeepers have seared a lasting impression into the consciousness of the public — one that is beneficial for the perpetuation of the police state. Feelings of helplessness and vulnerability will be easily exploited by agencies desiring an increase in budgets and power.
Police State USA regularly covers police brutality and demonstrates that it is a pervasive problem in this country. Out of all the definitive examples of state-sanctioned violence, why was Michael Brown chosen to be the poster-child of victimhood? The evidence was heavily on the officer’s side, lending itself to the conclusion that Brown was not only a strong-arm robber, but also that he assaulted the first police officer that confronted him.
Perhaps his criminality is why the national media spent so much time covering his case, while ignoring so many other innocent victims.
The Ferguson saga will be nationally remembered as a police officer using justified force to remove a bad guy from the streets using textbook self-defense. The public will remember that people rallied behind a robber, bemoaned police brutality with little to no evidence, then burned their own city to the ground. Ferguson will be pointed out as a reason why police should be decked out with armored vehicles and elaborate measures to disperse crowds.
From a purely consequential perspective, Ferguson was gift to supporters of the police state — wrapped and tied with a bow. While a legitimate case against police brutality can certainly be made, its presentation in Ferguson was an utter failure. This speaks to the importance of carefully choosing political battles and vetting the evidence before taking action. Unfortunately, in this case, the picking the wrong battle will ultimately leave people biased more toward police power than they were before, and the righteous opponents of actual misconduct will be lumped in with violent maniacs who have no respect for the rights of others.