As Ferguson burns…

As Ferguson burns… November 25, 2014

the Abp of St. Louis goes there to pray and work for peace.  Good for him!

God grant peace and a just outcome for everybody in this appalling situation.

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Rob B.

    May Almighty God have mercy on the people of Ferguson, MO.

  • Ken

    May the Holy Spirit fill the people with wisdom to see that violence is not acceptable. Please keep people there safe and may God richly bless the Bishop to help lead all the people there.

  • Abe Rosenzweig

    Pretty sure the “just outcome” part has already gone down the toilet…

  • Michaelus

    May God strike dumb the reporters and agitators who delight in seeing a town that is not their home engulfed in flames and violence.

    • Rob B.

      “Give us dirty laundry!” 🙂

      (with apologies to Don Henley)

    • Elaine S.

      Yes, some of these reporters make me ashamed to say I was ever a journalist (though I never worked in broadcast or covered anything remotely resembling this). For weeks now it seems they have been, literally, hell bent on repeating ad nauseam their expectation of violence, to the point that “Ferguson is on edge!” could replace “General Franco is still dead!” as the most overused catchphrase in news.

      On a personal note: this summer my husband and I were looking for a different vehicle and we found one on Craigslist that was exactly the make and model we wanted, in excellent condition and at a reasonable price, being offered for sale by a small dealer/repair shop in Florissant (just north of Ferguson). We made the trip there twice, once to see the vehicle in person and the second time to actually pick it up and drive it home. The dealer was very nice and helpful and gave us a trade in on our old car even though it was well into the “beater” stage. This all took place in late July, about 2-3 weeks before the trouble started.

      Anyway, in the past few days, whenever I get in my car I think of that dealer and the people who work for him — some were black and some were white, and very likely some of them live in Ferg — and I say some extra prayers for them and all their loved ones and neighbors. It breaks my heart to think of the way people like them are being treated, by some (not all) of the media, as if they were just background props in a giant political theater production.

  • Ferguson’s municipal structure is a near occasion for sin. Like most of the postage stamp municipalities around St. Louis, Ferguson needs to die. Radley Balko had a good piece on the racist origins of these things and their modern non-viability.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/09/03/how-st-louis-county-missouri-profits-from-poverty/

    • Peggy

      I like that StL County has several autonomous communities within it. That’s called self-governance. We certainly don’t want to see the county and STL City govts merge. That would be a tax burden and school system disaster. The communities in the county were not founded to ticket the poor. I know that some locals have brought this up. Perhaps courts can find a way for installment pmts, community svc…? Some way to pay, but not excuse laws that all of us must meet.

      The woman in the article had several violations to her name. The other driver had a right to call the police. Should the police have taken her in then and there? Well, it doesn’t sound nice but she had lots of violations. I suppose this was their chance to get her. She wasn’t targeted. Are poor people exempt from all those burdens placed on all of us? Can I be excused if I don’t use a seatbelt and don’t have insurance? Why not?

      There are lots of red-light cameras around St L county and city. My huz has been dinged. We don’t get excused b/c of our race or income level.

      This is WaPost stirring the pot.

      • There’s nothing wrong with autonomous communities, even small ones. But if you’re going to have a hamlet of ~500 people in it, you need to right size government to live on the tax base that 500 people can generate. These communities are not doing that. They have outsized budgets that depend on unjust law enforcement and have a large block of inadequately educated poor (I’m talking civic education here) that get disproportionately dinged by the system because they do stupid things like not showing up for court dates where they can plead their poverty and catch a break.

        The lady in the article who had lots of violations was robbed by her public school education civics curriculum and teachers. Justice is not currently properly structured to accommodate the poor. It should be. Notwithstanding the rioting chuckleheads in Ferguson, this should be fixed.

        There was evidence presented in the article that the St. Louis area law enforcement people are pulling the same illegal tricks with red lights that other forces around the country have been caught doing. There is pressure nationally to get enough ticket revenue to fund local operations. When you have micro-hamlets with just a few hundred residents and no appreciable industrial/commercial tax base the pressure to act unjustly goes way up.

        This enhanced pressure for police illegality and, more often, a lack of mercy is what I was talking about as a near occasion for sin.

        • Peggy

          I don’t support illegal police conduct, nor red light cameras.

          Yes, public ed system failed her. StL City schools and some in No County (around Ferg) are pretty bad. In fact, a couple of districts lots accreditation and had to bus kids elsewhere of the district’s own choosing. Receiving districts had no choice but to take kids. Apparently we also have interesting dynamics at South County schools with the Bosnian Muslim immigrants. But that’s another story. StL County is a ring around the city limits. StL City is NOT part of the county.

          • If I gave the impression that I thought you were in favor of illegality that was not intentional. I never thought that or tried to say it. I am defending the proposition that when you create a non-viable municipality that must act unjustly if it is to make its budget numbers and not go bankrupt this is a case of poor stewardship and a near occasion of sin. At this point I don’t think that you disagree with the theory. You might or might not agree with my private opinion that Ferguson is, in fact, a non-viable municipality which that theory would apply to. I can’t tell for sure, so which is it?

            • Elaine S.

              Ferguson was founded in the late 19th century and actually has historic homes and a downtown district that was, ironically, revitalized in recent years. The neighboring town of Florissant is 200+ years old, about as old as St. Louis itself; some streets still have French names. These are, for lack of a better word, real cities with a history, and are NOT the same as the “postage stamp municipalities” created whole cloth in the 1950s, 60s and 70s out of Baby Boom-era housing subdivisions. It is the latter type of community that, as you say, “needs to die”.

              • Peggy

                Yes. Elaine. Good work. I did some googling too last night. No time to post.

                In fact, STL city & archdiocese are celebrating 250 years this year. Also, King St Louis IX, our patron, was born 800 years ago this year.

                TML–got it. The cities have to live within their means then. But they haven’t sprung up out of nowhere justifying their existence on red light cameras. Even Alex, VA, Washington’s hometown employed red light cameras. Not sure if they still do. Yes, traffic stops are a big revenue producer for all towns. My state, IL, had quotas for state troopers to meet each month. I think only recently it’s been dropped. It’s about revenue, not the law.

              • It’s not the age of the community that is the problem. It’s that the local government is so outsized compared to normal revenue streams that they lean on police to be unjust and pour on the tickets. No matter what the community size, if you’re putting out large ticket quotas and harassing your own people to a point of massive frustration then there is a major problem with the local government structure.

                That being said, you made me look closer into my own knowledge and I now will be double checking Radley Balko’s output a bit more than I would have before. Ferguson is not a postage stamp community but a legitimate small town.

      • T

        The idea of tiny autonomous communities in a large urban area is silly. These autonomous suburbs wouldn’t exist if the big city like St Louis wasn’t there to subsidize them.

        • Peggy

          You have it wrong. StL does not subsidize at all. StL has a low tax/revenue base. The city has to charge a head tax on income of people who come into city to work. (Or they’ve talked about it at least.) The city wants to merge w/county to get tax revenue from wealthy burbs. Not all are low income like Ferguson. The city needs the burbs in the County to come in to spend money on Cardinal and Blues games, eg.

          I lived in DC Metro (MD and VA) where counties run everything, with little autonomy for cities. That was terrible, especially wrt schools–and snow closings.

  • sonrie

    Please just stop the rhetoric and pray. It’s so hard to really understand an issue unless you are in it. There are many sides, issues, and concerns, but the bottom line is the need for peace is of the utmost importance. Please pray.

  • W. Randolph Steele

    My wife is African-american and I love to say that I can’t believe the clueless comments here, but unfortunately, I can. I also understand the code words used here as well. I guess we’re fortunate to live in an integrated, newly hip neighborhood that accepts us and this includes the progressive parish we attend after some very bad experiences in the ‘burbs or should i say “whiter” areas around us and their congregations.

    • Eli

      Please elaborate instead of adding more division.

      • Joseph

        How does one add division?

        • Eli

          Seriously? Wow!

      • W. Randolph Steele

        If I have to explain it to you, then there’s no point. Youdon’t get it.

  • Paxton Reis

    We have a racial divide in this country that is coupled with an economic divide as well. There is a permanent underclass in this country, which is disproportionately skewed to the African-american community, and educational opportunities will need to play a large role in addressing this.

    Given that too many youngsters are in households that do not provide a stable learning environment, we need to consider having dormitories for children to stay at so they get healthy meals and support on homework. Churches and other non-profits need to be part of this effort by sponsoring dormitories and providing tutors.

    Community leaders need to focus on commonalities that bind us and not racial differences that are used to separate us and shut off conversions.

    • jroberts548

      Why is it people go to the most intrusive, expensive, and completely stupid solutions first? Yeah, let’s save the family structure in poor, African-American communities by putting all their kids in dormitories.

      Our government literally pays people not to get married. We could just stop doing that. Fixing the way we means-test would go a long way to fixing the problems with family structure in these communities. It would go vastly farther than taking kids from their parents and putting them in dormitories.

      Black people and white people use drugs at about the same rate. They don’t go to prison at anywhere near the same rate. Ending the war on drugs – or at least not using it as an excuse to arrest Black people – would do way more to protect youngsters than sticking all the minority kids in orphanages.

      These small municipalities like Ferguson get the plurality of their funding from fines and fees. If you’re worried about poor families, you should think about the impact that turning the police force into a revenue stream has on poor families. Or you could pretend that the problem would be made better by taking all the kids away.

      But fine, let’s all hold hands and focus on the commonalities and sing kum-bah-yah instead of looking at the actual problems with how our government treats minorities and the poor. Yeah, these problems are caused by the government, and are easily fixable, but instead of acknowledging that, I’m gonna spout off about some charity program to put a bunch of black kids in group homes.

      I’m sure you mean well, but maybe you should think about what we’re collectively doing to create these divisions, instead of trying to paper over them.

      • Paxton Reis

        Intrusive and expensive? We have witnessed generations lost and out of the economic commonweal. And by doing such we spend hundreds of billions per year on our penal system and law enforcement. Means testing etc. is part of the solution, but if enacted overnight would do nothing for the millions currently lost. New government rules will not make moms and dads become responsible parents in the near term.

        The reality of many communities, not only African american, is that children do not have a safe environment at “home” so providing them a structure and opportunity for receiving an education, for learning about responsibility, for learning about family well-being.
        This is in reality not intrusive (compared to our expensive police force and penal system) , and is just and inexpensive in the long run. Go visit these communities and schools for yourself to see. Go visit those in prisons–there are plenty of opportunities to do so–to witness the reality of today. Yes, government programs need to change but it is mistaken to consider that an “easy fix” after generations have been lost.

        • jroberts548

          Oh, sorry, I don’t know why I thought your plan was intrusive and expensive. I guess I didn’t realize how un-intrusive and super cheap moving kids from their parents’ house into dormitories would be.

          You know what would be infinitely less intrusive? If we stopped paying poor people not to get married. If we stopped using drug laws to discriminate against Black people. If we stopped using cops as revenue generators. For the most part, we’re talking about problems with discrete, easily implemented solutions. This problem, like all problems, won’t be solved by white people taking children away from black people. Maybe before moving on to that solution, we should start by not enacting and enforcing laws that seem designed to make things worse.

          How many laws have been passed by Al Sharpton? How many parents have been paid by Jesse Jackson not to marry each other? How are Al Sharpton, etc. responsible for the divisions that divide us? Is he the one shooting unarmed black teenagers, and then conducting sham grand jury hearings afterwards?

          Al Sharpton is near the bottom of the list of people “causing divisions.”

          ETA: And if you’re looking for “Christian behavior and outlook,” “let’s take all the Black kids away from their parents, even while we continue to pay their parents not to get married and use drug laws to disproportionately put their parents in jail” is neither Christian behavior nor outlook.

          Or am I forgetting something? Like when Jesus saw Zachaeus in the tree and said “I’m going to take your children because of your culture.” Or how Pharaoh was clearly the hero for causing Jochebed to give Moses up, to make sure he could get a good education and do his homework.

          • Paxton Reis

            When did I claim it would be super cheap and un-intrusive? Come on, don’t put your words in my mouth, you can do better.

            I do know that hundreds and hundreds of billions spent each year on prisons and police is super expensive and very intrusive as regards to the commonweal.

            And as I acknowledge, yes government laws, programs, etc. have to change but that is not the panacea to fix the ills of children today who are and will be lost.

          • Paxton Reis

            “Like when Jesus saw Zachaeus in the tree and said “I’m going to take your children because of your culture.”

            The reality today is that millions of kids have been “taken” from families and the community by our current system in terms of they are lost as far as receiving an education and very little prospects economically. We have a foster care system today that protects children, and having dormitories–run and supported by church and non-profits–would be a derivative of foster care.

        • jroberts548

          So are the kids just going to go there voluntarily? Are you going to ask every Black parent to just give up their kids, because you’re such a fit parent? What if they refuse?

          And if your plan did come to fruition, what do you think the long-term effects would be? Do you think there just maybe might be adverse unintended consequences to telling a generation of kids that the best thing for parents to do is to give their kids to somebody else?

          • Paxton Reis

            Open your eyes, go visit some schools in poorer neighborhoods.
            You will see kids at the age of 5 or 6, and in the current situation they are have essentially zero chance of making it. They will be lost as adults and then there kids will be lost too, and there kids, etc. And the cycle continues, yet we spend billions on police and prisons.

            We know today the long-term adverse consequences allowing generation after generation to be lost to any hope to an education, to economic well-being etc., and it is a penal industry and a militarized police force that costs use 100s of billions per year. The US has some 6+ million in the penal/parole system, and this is plan wrong.

            Go visit–go volunteer– some schools in less wealthy neighborhoods and talk to the teachers. They will tell you that too many kids do not have a safe and healthy home life to go home to at the end of the day. Teachers for many kids are probably the most stable adult they interact with on a daily basis. That is a reality in a lot of neighborhoods (and not only black ones mind you).

      • Paxton Reis

        And by commonalities that bind us, I am speaking of a Christian behavior and outlook, not kumbaya government programs. The PC mentality of labeling one and other by race etc., does much to separate us into our various camps. Labeling serves politicians and the likes of Al Sharpton,etc. as it helps in their maintaining their power and in their fundraising, but division is not what we need–just look at the events over the past few days. If we do not find a common ground, Ferguson etc. will repeat and repeat. We can do better.

      • Willard

        Can you explain how the government pays people not to get married? I thought that most of that got fixed with welfare reform.

        • jroberts548

          Through the way various programs, especially the earned income tax credit and TANF, are calculated. Two unmarried adults will be better off than the same couple would be if they married.

          Most couples have a marriage bonus, but very low earners and very high earners have a marriage penalty.

          ETA: http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org/ExclusiveCommentary.aspx?id=594ef2af-dc11-4c05-8144-1f9060e46131 outlines some scenarios of where the penalties come in.

          • Willard

            Cool thanks. I think we should exempt the first 100k of income from federal taxation and then have steep progressivity after that. Then I would get rid of the EITC, food stamps, and section 8. Replace Obamacare with a medicaid that even the poor would have to buy into. Or, if you didn’t want medicaid, you could get a private plan. Use the money saved from these transfer programs to fund child care and pre-k through college/trade school along with infrastructure and clean energy. This I think would greatly help the country to encourage upward mobility especially help black people.

  • W. Randolph Steele

    After a 2nd cup of coffee, here is my elaboration. My wife is the pastoral associate at the wealthiest parish in the diocese, recruited from a much smaller, integrated parish by a new pastor who was a friend of hers. He has since moved on , promoted to the Chancellory Ofice. he ‘s good guy and loved the fact, the she has a Master’s in Theology from Xavier in New Orleans. But EVEN he was shocked by some of the whispered conversations, he and WE overheard. That was 10 years ago and things are better now, but WE still sometimes overhear the same whispers.
    Once, we we were driving from a Catholic supply store in a northern, adjacent county, when we were pulled and questioned(the same city is under a Federal consent decree for doing the same thing to black state trooper in civilian clothes)
    THAT was about 5 years ago.
    Oh yeah, there was the Mass at the parish my dad’s family helped to found 150 years ago, the weekend we got engaged. We kissed at the Sign of Peace. We ignored the stares,but as we were leaving, a couple of people came up to us to “helpfully” tell us that “we don’t do that here”. We’ve never been back since.
    There are a couple of African-american parishes here and we always been warmly welcomed AND I’ve learned to truly LOVE Black Gospel music.

    Divisive? You expect me to forget these things and NOT have Ferguson push my buttons?

  • Colored_Catholic

    Routine killing of black men by police is OK. Why? Because it is “legal”.

    What is the reason for the killing? The cop “felt” that the victim posed a “threat”. Yep. Cops can use their “feelings” to be judge, jury and executioner. They have zero responsibility under the law to de-escalate any situation.

    That is perfectly fine, and we should just move on. Why? Because the law in it’s majesty prohibits both the rich and the poor from sleeping under bridges. So even if in practice, 95% of the time, the person at the receiving end is black, the same law applies to whites too. There – we have a very good and valid reason to move on. The law is blind.

    So move on folks, nothing to see here. No laws to change. No rules to change. Cops can keep on doing this. Black men can keep on getting killed. Grand juries can keep on doing nothing. All perfectly legal, and we should all move on. Why? Because black on black. dysfunctional families, black culture.

    Catholics can raise hell for a law that requires acknowledgment that they wont provide birth control. Fight it all the way to the Supreme Court. USCCB. Big money. Big lawyers. Change it at all cost. Cannot let laws like that stand.

    But laws and a legality that ends up killing mostly black people – are OK. Move on.

    • W. Randolph Steele

      You made my point far better than I EVER could. Thank you. I am afriad, however, that YOUR point will be lost on many of these posters.

    • Dave G.

      Aren’t you worried more that the number one killer of black men in the US is black men? As much as I wasn’t in Ferguson when this happened, so don’t know the details, and tend to shy from conviction from blindness, I wasn’t there. But I do know what a black priest said a couple months ago. He lived north of Chicago. He said he knew several who were driving down to Ferguson to take part in the protests. He thought it odd, that they would drive by so many murdered black people in Chicago in order to protest what they know nothing about in Ferguson. Not that racism or cops killing black people (or anyone) isn’t a bad or worrisome thing. Especially in light of recent trends. But I’m often taken by just how little time – if any – is spent fretting over the number one killer. I’d think it would dominate more of the national discussion.

      • W. Randolph Steele

        Another clueless coment. I JUST LOVE all the helpful advice from white people on here to black people, as if you even know anything about them.

        • Dave G.

          Yeah, that’s probably about the answer that I’ve come to expect. Which is why by the end of the week at least a half dozen blacks will be reported murdered by our local news station and you’ll never even hear about it a day later. Perhaps it’s because their deaths don’t help advance a Narrative. Who knows. Happy Thanksgiving in any event.

          • Peggy

            Ah, fools jump in….like me….

            How about from a black man?
            http://www.nationalreview.com/article/393611/silence-around-ferguson-deroy-murdock

            My husband and I noted that Bill Cosby, in trouble for a history of rape apparently, had been taking on illegitimacy rates in black communities. He’s not been appreciated.

            If one does some digging, one will find comparable stats on illegitimacy and crime in low-income white (and other race) communities.

  • BadStudentofGK

    Archbishop Carlson asked us to pray to Our Lady “Undoer of Knots.” Which is also Pope Francis’s devotion to Our Lady. The truth is, nothing out of the re-action has anything to do with an injustice. But, rather, the re-action of destroying property has all to do with being an injustice itself. If the group of protesters in Ferguson continually destroy property and harm anyone in their way, then they’ve not advocated the wrong of the officer. Rather, they’ve advocated the crime which took place in 5 cigars being stolen, and the violent bodily contact of shaking the store clerk. All that the protesters are advocating is criminal activity. Bottom-line, the re-action of damaging property and ruining other people’s lives makes out that is all that Brown stood for. And if criminal activity is the right thing to do, how can they even say the officer was wrong?