The Government In Ferguson Tried Respecting Civil Liberties, Guess What Happened?

A stunning change happened overnight in Ferguson, Missouri after the government took a different approach to people’s civil liberties in the area.

Gone were the SWAT trucks and snipers. Gone were the riot shields and militaristic outfits. Gone was the hostility. And guess what? Gone was the violence.

Yesterday the Missouri Highway Patrol was given responsibility over the area. Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, who is a Ferguson native, marched in front of the crowd and set clear priorities for the marchers which respected their civil liberties. Governor Jay Nixon had vowed to take a different approach to the event, which has spurred national interest after police were caught tear gassing and arresting reporters.

“When I see a young lady cry because of fear of this uniform, that’s a problem.” Johnson said. “We’ve got to solve that.”

Johnson vowed not to blockade the street, and even went so far as to set up a staging center for the media. The officers were careful to ensure that residents had the right to assemble and the police were told to take off their gas masks while working crowd control.

Johnson, who is also African American, hugged and kissed his fellow community members as they walked by. The Washington Post reported that when one man asked Capt. Johnson what he would say to his niece who was tear gassed, Johnson replied: “Tell her Capt. Johnson is sorry and he apologizes.”

From the Washington Post: 

Protesters said they were still angry, demanding justice for Brown and answers from local police about why he was shot and who the offending officer was.

But, they said, Johnson’s willingness to physically interact with them, rid the streets of heavy police equipment, and help them coordinate protests was a welcome change in tone.

“Thank you so much for being here,” said Karen Wood, who fought back tears as she held both of Johnson’s hands imploring him to bring answers to residents and maintain calm in the streets.

“This is about human rights, about human beings,” she cried. “It takes cooperation…our youth are out here without guidance, without leadership.”

Moments later, as he rallied the crowd and demanded justice and information about the shooting, the man with the megaphone declared:

“They respect us,” referring to police. “ So let’s respect them. They’ve given us the sidewalk so lets stay out of their street.”

Organizers worked through the crowd, handing out “community talking points” outlining the goals of the protest.

“This is what our community was like before a child was killed in our streets,” said Jerroll Sanders, one of the protest organizers. “But what we’ve seen is a change in the policing approach. The aggression was never brought on by us.”

Isn’t it incredible what happens when the government actually respects civil liberties?

Our sister site, The Libertarian Republic, produced a podcast this morning on how libertarian politics are informing policies in places such as Ferguson. Have a listen:

  • PJParks

    That is wholesale change for the better. No militarized police! That insanity must be put to an end. The military surplus must be retrieved and if necessary destroyed.

    • Michael B

      Equipment is NOT the issue. Every police department in the US since the 1630’s has used “military equipment.” Swords. Clubs. Pistols, shotguns, and rifles are all “military” designed equipment, as is the very concept of the police UNIFORM, which in every community is patterened after US Army and US Marine Corps uniforms. The campaign hats? Military. Boots? Invented by and for the military. Holsters? Military in origin and design. Radios, in cars and hand-held? Military design.

      If you will remove all military equipment from the police, what shall they wear? T-shirts and shorts? (Wait: the Army invented the T-shirt, that won’t work.)

      • PJParks

        Gosh Mike under your theory the Police should have artillery and Fighter jets. How about some land mines and a few ICBM’s tossed in to boot. When you give a Police officer machine guns, body armor and armored vehicles, they are not going to go out with just a side arm in their black and white, they are going to armor up. I don’t want cops like that around me as some start to think they are bullet proof.

        • Michael B

          I’ve seen no evidence that any of the police departments sent to Ferguson had even one “machine gun.” The cover picture with this article shows an officer with a RIFLE, not capable of automatic fire. He is clearly outfitted as a “counter sniper,” the officer who looks for and is prepared to engage (shoot) anyone who is shooting at other officers, or the public, as a “sniper.”

          All police officers in the 21st century wear body armor, all the time. You just don’t notice that extra bulkiness under a properly fitted shirt or jacket.

          Back to the cover picture: he’s not wearing any extra “body armor,” he’s wearing a utility vest to carry his water (Camelback), a radio, extra rifle ammunition, handcuffs, and a first aid kit.

          Armored vehicles in police service have NO offensive capability, they are only usefull as barricades and for “cover” against active shooters.

          I don’t see anybody protesting the use of heavier armored trucks by Loomis, Wells Fargo, or a dozen other private (mercenary) companies that service the banks and ATM’s every day, all over North America.

      • ratmand

        We are talking about assault equipment, NOT protection equipment. No department needs to use armored vehicles except in extreme situations (such as a rampaging shooter)

        • scott

          People have been killed in riots, which happened before all the equipment. I’m glad things calmed down.

          • ratmand

            I saw a story about how actual military personnel were responding to the response by Ferguson, and one told a story about not wearing his full gear in Afghanistan because the locals would find it threatening just by wearing it.

            Police don’t realize that over-reacting to a situation can incite a riot.

  • Brad Owens

    The message in this story; Local police were “out of control” so the State and Feds had to be “called in” to “take over” the situation. The heavy equipment and military style actions (most all of which were given to the locals by the Feds) were pulled back, the people see that and “calm” returns with the central government “taking” over for the local police. One resident that said to the State Police Captain in charge now, “This is about human rights, about human beings,” she cried. “It takes cooperation…our youth are out here without guidance, without leadership.” while … Organizers worked through the crowd, handing out “community talking points” outlining the goals of the protest…

  • History repeats

    “A stunning change happened overnight in Ferguson, Missouri after the
    government took a different approach to people’s civil liberties in the

    ……or the mob became placid once their homes/apts were filled with stolen goodies

  • Kris Kulesa-Colt

    he was not a child. he was an adult. convenience store video showed him threatening a man a foot shorter and many pounds lighter than him. he was not as innocent an individual as his community wants to believe he is. did he deserve to die, absolutely not.

    what about the police rights to not have shit thrown at them? both sides behaved badly. neither is right. neither can claim innocence.

    • Michael B

      18 = ADULT. old enough to enlist, to vote, and to do almost any ‘adult’ job or task, but not old enough to legally buy or drink a beer.

  • vanessa

    I live one exit away from ferguson and the violence hasn’t stopped… in the last two nights violence, looting, and businesses being ransacked has continued. This is a completely b.s. story. Its just trying to say that the police were wrong start to finish. They werent. One cop was in the wrong. Yet my community is still being destroyed.last night a protester shot and killed another protester after curfew. Thats not my idea of stopping the violence.