In little more than a week – April 7, to be exact – Ferguson, Missouri will hold municipal elections.
Not surprisingly, given the intense racially charged atmosphere there since Michael Brown was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson last August 9th, a great deal of pressure is being exerted by “protesters”, both local and imported, who have camped out in Ferguson to make it an icon of the fight against police killing innocent, unarmed Black males
The fact that there was nothing racial about the incident, that Wilson was cleared by both the grand jury and eric holder’s Justice Department, and that Michael Brown was high on pot, had just robbed a convenience store, and apparently went for Wilson’s gun? Irrelevant’n’immaterial.
In any event, Earl Ofari Hutchinson has written a commentary about the upcoming elections that is well worth your time to read – and, I am confident, will either have you saying “yep” over and over again, or make your blood boil. I doubt there will be much middle ground.
Here is a part of that commentary, which particularly struck me:
The thought was that the Brown slaying angered and engaged so many thousands that it was almost a done deal. The first chance black residents got theyâ€™d jam the polls and totally revamp city government in Ferguson.
That would mean the election of a majority black city council and mayor. This in turn could quickly be followed by the hiring of a black city manager and other top level administrators. After that: an overhaul of the police department to make diversity and reform a reality. Eight months after the Brown slaying, the April elections will put that thinking to the test.
But early signs arenâ€™t good. In the nearly three-month period between the day Brown was slain and October 8, only 204 eligible adults in Ferguson registered to vote. A month later, less than half of the nearly 25,000 registered voters in Ferguson bothered to go to the polls in the mid-term elections. There was no breakdown by ethnicity of the number who actually did bother to vote. But given the general pattern of less voter participation by minorities in mid-term elections, and the far greater participation of older, conservative white voters, almost certainly, the turnout of black voters in Ferguson was abysmal.
Let’s stop here for a moment.
What does it tell you that, after almost 8 months of non-stop agitating and the main street of Ferguson twice being burned down in the process, there is almost no rush to register and vote in these elections? Can it be that the citizens of Ferguson are that apathetic?
Can it be that they are tired of it? Tired of the endless protesting. Tired of the cameras and the microphones. Tired of looking at the empty shell of what once was an active downtown shopping area. Angry that so many businesses – Black and White both – have closed.
Can it be that, knowing about Michael Brown’s activities up to the time he and Officer Wilson came in contact with each other, they are not blaming Wilson for what happened? Is it just possible that a great many people in Ferguson, Black and White both – believe Michael Brown was the cause of his own death? Can it be that they wish the “protesters” would just disappear and leave them to live their lives again?
When the protesting, then rioting, looting and burning, took place, I commented that
Ferguson, Missouri has about 14,000 Black residents. Watch your TV and note how many are out there rioting, looting or behaving in a disorderly manner (as opposed to protesting, which anyone is entitled to do). Is it 100 or maybe, at most, 200?
I doubt it is as much as 200 – but say that it even 300.
Now, assuming they are all locals (which probably is not true), subtract 300 from 14,000 and you get 13,700 out of 14,000. That is how many Black people in Ferguson are not rioting, looting or disorderly.
Y’know, maybe I had a point.
One other thing: Mr. Hutchinson tells us there are 25,000 registered voters in Ferguson, Missouri. Given that there are 21,000 residents – and I hear tell that at least some of them are too young to vote – I think he may want to revise that number downward a tad.
Moving on in his commentary, we also have this:
The reasons for the chronic past absences of blacks from the Ferguson polls in part mirror the reasons for the persistent low minority voter turnout in local and national election in past years. The oft-cited reasons are apathy, disinterest, GOP voter suppression, the sense that their vote won’t change anything, that there’s little difference between the two parties, and the inherent distrust of politicians. There’s also the deep sense that the Democratic Party routinely takes the black vote for granted and that Democratic elected officials, no matter their color, offer few tangible programs and initiatives to deal with poverty, joblessness, the stratospheric black incarceration rates, and gaping health and education racial disparities. Other than the well-publicized voter outreach and mobilization campaigns that Democrats launch in the immediate run-up to a national election, there is no sustained effort to energize and engage black voters.
That has to be the all-time world’s record for making excuses in one paragraph.
If Mr. Hutchinson had stopped at apathy and disinterest he’d probably be on solid ground. Those are the usual reasons why people don’t bother to vote.
But then he stuffs everything else under the sun in there as well – including that it’s the fault of Republicans who suppress the Black vote (I’d love him to explain how they do that – I will gladly debate him on voter ID), and Democrats who own virtually all the Black vote so they take Blacks for granted. I’m surprised he didn’t find a way to blame Independents too.
Does this remind you of the same song it reminds me of?
From West Side Story’s “Gee, Officer Krupke”:
The trouble is he’s lazy, the trouble is he drinks
The trouble is he’s crazy, the trouble is he stinks
The trouble is he’s growing, the trouble is he’s grown
Krupke, we’ve got troubles of our own
Incidentally, that song ends with the less-than-elegant line “Gee, Officer Krupke. Krup you!”
Maybe that is the real message of Ferguson’s voting -age population to the “protesters” and their pals in the media.