Saturday, November 22, 2014

Here's What I Know About Ferguson

More than a few times these past 3+ months, I've started to comment on a topic that has headlined the news more often than not since August 9. Each time, I've decided not to comment.

You see, for the past 4+ years, I've worked in Ferguson, Missouri.

I wasn't in Ferguson that Saturday afternoon; instead, I was attending a conference in Dallas, Texas.

I'm not a member of the grand jury that has spent untold hours listening to testimony and sifting through evidence in the case.

As a result of those last 2 facts, I am in no position to offer an opinion on what happened that day or what, if any, legal action should be taken now.

Of course, a large number of politicians, activists, ministers and pseudo-ministers, and a wide variety of other folks who were neither on the scene back in August or on the grand jury have been more than happy to do just that. They have spoken with firm conviction, but without any first-hand knowledge of the events.

Their desire to sound off or to be in the limelight has trumped their concern for truth and for the very justice they proclaim to be their primary motivation.

So what do I know about Ferguson? Let me share just a few of the things I've learned about this North St. Louis County community in the 4 1/2 years I've worked there.

1. Beautiful neighborhoods -- old and newer -- abound. Sadly, there are also neighborhoods that are unkempt at best.

2. Admittedly, Ferguson has some problems. Crime is a problem; in fact, it's a significant problem. Other problems are unemployment, struggling public schools, low property values, etc.

3. Ferguson also has many strengths of which its residents can be proud. Thriving old businesses and new businesses, wonderful parks, beautiful churches, etc.

4. Many, many wonderful individuals reside in Ferguson. Individuals who work hard or who are retired after a lifetime of good, hard work. Individuals who reach out to those in need, help their neighbors, and are the very folks any of us would welcome as neighbors and friends.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Ferguson is a community that is like thousands found throughout this country.

What you see on television and in newspapers is not "Ferguson". Instead, it's the Ferguson that has been created by politicians, activists, so-called Christian leaders, random individuals, and those in the media who are bent on using the tragedy of August 9, 2014, to their advantage.

To be seen. To utter the soundbite that is heard ad nauseum around the world.

"Michael Brown" and "justice" are the catchphrases they use to shamelessly promote themselves.

As Ferguson -- and all of the St. Louis area and beyond -- waits anxiously for the grand jury decision, I'm sure these individuals are feeling quite proud of themselves. I'm sure that, even as I write, they are busy posturing and positioning themselves for maximum exposure in the days ahead.

Instead, they should be hanging their heads in shame.

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