The American Way

The rioting and protesting in Ferguson Misouri, New York, and Boston, as well as other cities across the contiguous United States, is being analysed as a new civil rights movement. Certainly popular demonstration has not reached this stratospheric level since the Occupy protests in 2011. However, there is a clear goal in the minds of the protesters even if they cannot yet articulate in concrete terms.

The Ferguson protests have been going on for months, and the Grand Jury decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson fuelled the bonfire. Another incident in New York City occurred when a video of an officer was leaked showing him restraining a black man in a choke hold. The man later died. The officer in question was also not charged.

What seems clear from the outrage exhibited by the protesters if that they are first demanding that the authorities take their distress seriously. That the killing of unarmed people cannot be ignored, and the officers involved should face consequences. The killing of unarmed black people is a further outrage because their is a clear pattern of it occurring at the hands of the state. Ideally the US would never have needed legislation like the Civil Rights Act, or the Voting Registration Act. The constitution — since the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment theoretically treats every citizen equally. Even the Equal Pay Act shouldn’t be necessary to get women the same pay for the same work as men.

But these things were necessary, because there is a sickness in the soul of America that cannot heal on its own. The momentum behind this nationwide demonstration may tip it into becoming a movement, and it is movements for good or ill that achieve legislative change in America. From far across the Pacific Ocean I watch in hope for a more perfect America, land of liberty. May it someday warrant that appellation.

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