Opinion: Ferguson protests or civil rights movement?


Albert Fisler is a junior English major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

Albert Fisler

This week in Ferguson, Missouri, protests and riots have exploded. It has even spread across the country. This indeed has become a key issue in recent news. While I will make no opinion on the incident itself, what is interesting to observe is that the protesters are beginning to look at this as a civil rights issue, rather than mere crime and punishment.

Violence will only beget more violence, and while rioting and looting may not be the best method to get a point across, the message was delivered nonetheless. People are tired of what they view as racial discrimination. It’s important to look at not only the outcome of all this chaos, but also what caused it to erupt and make people so upset to react in such a way. After all, it was one death that eventually triggered World War I.  

Nevertheless, the tone associated seems to underline a new civil rights battle. Cat Daniels, 53, is a woman working within the protests in Ferguson by cooking for the protesters. She told USA Today in a news article, “This is 2014, and we are still confronting the problems that our mothers and fathers confronted back in the civil rights era. My generation came along, and we fed off what they did. We didn’t fight and keep the fight going. Now, because we didn’t keep the fight, our children have to fight.”

These protests are receiving support from all over, no matter race, gender or age. People are noticeably tired of the police force. Avery Gales, 14, who has been in the protests since August, told USA Today, “This made me want to fight for justice … They say he died before his graduation. I just don’t want to be like that — have police shoot me before my graduation.”

I have heard within my own years, African- Americans tell their children that police discrimination toward them is merely something they have to deal with. I have noticed people generally get nervous around police, whether they are doing anything wrong or not, rather than feeling safe and protected ­— as one should around someone who protects and serves. Yet instead of protecting from crime, police seem to search for crime, no matter what or where it is; whether it’s gang activity in the inner city or speed limits on a college campus.  

I cannot say any of these outcomes are a direct result of an entire police force or the actions of one person. But the common factors in each of these similar situations happening all around the country, is that each involve a police officer and an African American. Who knows if these protests are moving into something greater. What is unfortunate is that people have already lost, their lives in similar situations, [and continue to] as well. However, Cat Daniels left USA Today with a powerful rallying cry, saying, “Some people are going to have to die for the cause. It’s sad to say, but this is the new civil rights movement for our generation, and there will be casualties, and there should be bloodshed.”