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Editorial: A growing black eye in Ferguson

As events have continued to unfold in Ferguson, Mo., little good has transpired — in fact, things just keep getting worse and worse.

From the moment black 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer — six times according to an autopsy released this week — bad decisions have helped fuel more violence instead of restoring calm to the community and putting the investigation of the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death on the path toward justice.

Let’s begin with the police department’s initial response to the shooting. Instead of acting quickly to provide the kind of transparency and understanding that produces trust, the Ferguson police seem to have immediately taken on a siege mentality. The historical relationship between the mostly all-white department and the mostly all-black community it serves undoubtedly helped set the stage for this distrust.

Then, police officers, many from outside the community and armed to the teeth with the latest in military gear, appeared to have little interest in seeing the relationship become any healthier. Peaceful protesters were met with suspicion and an aggressive attitude, and then a series of criminal acts by those taking advantage of the situation resulted in the use of tear gas, rubber bullets from these heavily armed forces that seemed to echo the way demonstrations are quelled in the Middle East or Asia.

That’s not to say that vigorous clearing of the streets wasn’t justified. The evening protests opened the door for individuals whose aim is not finding out the truth about Brown’s shooting but rather in pursuing their own agenda, using the disturbances as a cover for vandalism, looting and the throwing of Molotov cocktails. Such dangerous behavior makes it extremely hard to separate those peacefully protesting from those fanning the flames of violence.

Earlier this week, we even saw “protestors” being shot by other “protestors” and now the governor of Missouri has dispatched the National Guard.

All of this only enlarges the black eye that Ferguson now represents — not only on the police response, but also on the response of the community.

If something positive is to emerge from all this, it’s going to take quiet in the streets and an aggressive approach by those charged with finding out the facts of this sad occurrence.

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