Epicenter ‘Ferguson’: Dream Still Unfulfilled With Ashes Scattered All Around

President Barack Obama talks with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss the situation in Ferguson

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Philadelphia – Ferguson, Small town in Missouri never had any idea that a death of an unarmed teenager named Michael Brown by a police officer would turn it into a center of gravity by the media worldwide. Ghosts of brutal American past from days of slavery keep visiting the present in so many ways that it keeps piling as national statistics on crime and then nation keeps moving in a delusion as if nothing has changed. Nation remains in a firm denial and sickness spreads sprouting all over the land. Business as usual has a price to pay in terms of damage it does to social fabric which is priceless for a society ready to identify itself as a melting pot.

When a great nation tries to focus on selling its greatness alone, it remains in a state of denial. History during days of slavery is buried deep in the record books, so leaving it alone under a tombstone for a moment here. We still have seen so many convulsions in past fifty years. To name few: Watts (Los Angeles, 1965), Newark (NJ, 1967), Camden (NJ, 1971), LA (Rodney King, 1992), Oakland (CA, 2009) – out of scores of more riots happened in the past.

Convulsions remain untreated as they are dealt with brutal force without any proper understanding on race relations in local community, which is a real cure. Our lawmakers enjoy checking human rights records of other nations, however they play an ostrich with head in the sand when it comes to check our own record for an introspection and reality check. Many in majority and minorities – black, brown, Asian, Latino alike – all feel the same. We need many more miles to go as far as protection or freedom of all citizens is concerned.

The real problem lies in recognition of the value system on protecting the society-at-large then adding enhancement in services. Law enforcement is just a vehicle to provide it seamlessly, not to burden society with the unjustified costs in terms of money spent and never in any way with unaccountability over mismanagement of power. After all, police departments are simply a form of service providers and they should have the same “checks and balance” as any other type of public service entity. There is always a power struggle but the fact remains very clear. A police officer with a job in public domain has to ultimately report only one employer that is the average citizen whose paid taxes support his or her living. So treating the local citizens well is in best interest to extend longevity of working career. If we accept this simple rule in private sector, then what stops us to embrace it such public recruitments?

Let us examine the point in case of runaway costs of new regime of arming local police departments. Will we ever ask ourselves whether they are necessary, efficient and effective measures to bring real shine to the community and the department serving their needs?

We live in an age of giveaways with seal of approval from our lawmakers. Department Homeland Security (DHS) maintains big budget and a fairly large portion of it flows to local police departments as a part of financial aid to random improvement with very few restrictions on spending the money in full, every year. Even Department of Defense (DOD) has joined hands in such aid by passing its surplus of over 160 military fighting vehicles from Iraq war to local police in anticipation of a rare combat event related to terrorism. DOD has donated its goods under not-so-known Act (Program 1033) passed originally as National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 and such donations in military equipment amount to be over $4.2 billion since its inception. Similarly $34+ billion has been scattered through DHS charity arm to local law enforcement agencies in past 13 years since tragedy of September 11, 2001. It may go multi-fold had the wish of respective authorities remained fulfilled for coming years in near future.

Millions of dollars were given to big cities like New York City and small towns like Ferguson across America year after year; spending was encouraged to optimum level without a well-defined fiscal responsibility and depth in purpose. It was one thing to fortify the local force within the fiscal boundaries and to protect the local citizens to its maximum and completely another to use money from taxpayer accounts indiscriminately. Latter form of business has no place in public service domain.

There is no real need for investing such a huge sum of capital on military equipment in local establishments when bigger force is always accessible at federal level in the event of any emergency. Even if a fraction of wasteful spending in budget is used in police training on understanding of local cultures and local community, then it would yield harmonious crop of peace and tranquility in local communities with a wonderful partnership with police.

Average Joe on Main Street of America has daunting questions to government. Why does he suffer from unemployment, underemployment or economic misery while his hard earned tax dollars are mismanaged grossly where services rendered have diminishing value? Why does Government have no initiative on police departments to learn on race relations with “know your community” type comprehensive training? Why does the recruitment of all minorities not go beyond quota lines, which is very much against the definition of melting pot of which we are all proud of as a nation? The inquiry needs an honest dialogue and transparent solution.

In our complex society we believe all our demands become our right, but ignore responsibilities they come with, not as right mostly as privilege – be it Government, business, law enforcement or citizen-at-large. Two American leaders in second half of twentieth century wanted a different kind of America for the future which has freedom for all, sharing the same values which will make the nation robust with new age confidence.

One of them was President Eisenhower who wanted so-called “military-industrial complex” to be dismantled because he envisioned as a soldier with top rank honor and Chief Executive in Government, the entrapment of the society into boundless deficit spending and misery of substandard living. Another was Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who had a dream where no one in nation is judged by color of the skin but by the content of character.

Both men would show deep gloom on their faces, had they been alive today. Simply, the nation moving in twenty first century is in no hurry to make any prudent amendment and moving steadily in regression instead. Problem is not “knowledge” about the problem; it is the “understanding” remaining illusive like a needle in a haystack.

This specific needle is riddle of the day.

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