I've always found that structuring a post like a letter allows me to be at once more formal and more familiar in tone. I also find that it helps me organize my thoughts more effectively. Tonight I want to talk a little about what's going on in Ferguson, MO and explore the implications thereof to any thinking pagan in this country.
First let me put one of my less popular opinions out there so there is no misunderstanding. I do not condemn violent protesting as a matter of course. In point of fact I think that there are times that it is the only recourse left to citizens. As Thomas Jefferson once said "...what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." The violation of the rights of our citizens has continued for so long by the police forces of this country is it any wonder that the people are fighting back?
Let me ask you something truly dearest reader: unless you have members of your family in the police force when was the last time you felt the police force existed to serve and protect you personally? When you drive by a squad car even if you are doing nothing wrong does not your heart skip a beat, afraid to see those lights swing in behind you? Shows such as Law and Order and CSI serve as propaganda, making light of the rights of citizens when the protagonists barge into houses on a sliver of probable cause. In our day and age the police are not keepers of the peace they are instigators of violence, violators of civil rights (especially though not only for people of colour), and the clenched fist of a government that has become afraid of the rights of its citizens. When citizens cannot call on our constabulary without fear of being implicated what recourse do we have? Hell two years ago I helped stop the home invasion of someone in my neighborhood. I helped subdue one of the assailants and stood guard over him until the police arrived. When the Cops pulled up the guy bolted before they could have seen which way he ran, so I ran after him making as much noise as possible to lead the authorities to him. When the police caught up to us, however, they cuffed me just as roughly as the invader and were more concerned about what I had been smoking in the tobacco pipe in my pocket than figuring out whether I deserved to be cuffed. When they throw tear gas (a chemical weapon banned in warfare since the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/08/14/tear-gas-is-a-chemical-weapon-banned-in-war-but-ferguson-police-shoot-it-at-protesters/), shoot rubber bullets, and spray jets of pepper spray at protestors, often for little more reason than that they are protesting, what do we do? When they can all but ignore the 4th amendment and search the houses and seize the persons of innocent people for their witch.. I mean... manhunt following the shootings Wednesday night (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/13/us/ferguson-police.html) what is left to us? It is the governments job to deescalate the situation and acquiesce to the will of the people during protests not the other way around. True these shootings were a blow to a resolution in Ferguson as well as Oakland and New York, but is a resolution wherein the citizens are appeased for a short time before the cops go back to business as usual really what we want? Sure one guy stepped down yesterday but was that an actual step towards real change or a PR stunt to attempt to mollify the protesters? Considering the brutal police tactics I have been seeing over the past year I lean strongly towards the latter.
If you are law enforcement reading this or a supporter thereof I would like you to consider this: I understand that cops are all individuals and not all of them are bad, so those officers who really wish to serve and protect should stand up to their supervisors when they are told to violate the rights of citizens, even if it means facing punishment from those superiors. Do not violate the 1st and 4th amendment rights of citizens for the sake of the expediency of an investigation. Quit acting like soldiers at war; we are not your enemy we are your charges and all of us, yes even the criminals, other races, and immigrants among us, deserve your protection.
If you ever wondered what side you'd be on during the race riots of the 60's here is your chance to find out. Take a stand! Even if you are far from the front line as I am in my little Appalachian home you can still make a difference! Attend local protests and be active on social media; don't just re-tweet or share the latest hilarious cat photo re-tweet or share the latest news articles on these issues and keep informed.
Yours in service to the Morrigan,
Achija Branvin Sionnach