Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Police killings, demonstrations and emergency management

Last night, the jury in St. Louis County, Missouri empaneled to hear evidence on whether the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown should be indicted for murder or manslaughter returned its decision, which was that the officer shouldn't be indicted.

There were demonstrations and protests in Ferguson, and elsewhere in the country.  The Denver Post has a gallery of images on the topic.
APTOPIX Ferguson
Police gather on the street as protesters react after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

In advance of the decision there were an abundance of stories about planning for the demonstrations that were likely to occur ("Officials make preparations for Ferguson grand jury decision," Reuters), with the aim of reducing violence--not just in Ferguson, but in other cities around the country ("Local protesters prepare for Ferguson grand jury," Orlando Sentinel, such as DC, where officers were put on alert, more officers were assigned to duty, and leave requests were cancelled, to prepare for possible demonstrations ("Ferguson watch: DC police preparing for possible protests," WTTG-TV/Fox5).

The topic touches on many dimensions of government organization, public administration, public financing, and order maintenance, which are questions of planning, including planning in advance for protests and working to minimize unrest and damage.

While governments and police departments need to do this, so do commercial districts and business owners.  Also see "San Francisco Readies for the Big One, a Block at a Time," from the Wall Street Journal.

And apparently, demonstrators ("In St. Louis, Protesters Plan an Orderly Response to Indictment News," Wall Street Journal).

Need for structural changes in policing.  Besides the issue of militarization of police ("Senators Criticize Militarization of Local Police Departments ...," Wall Street Journal; "War Gear Flows to Police Departments," New York Times) illustrated by the Ferguson Police Department's initial response to protests immediately after the killing, and the shootings and killings by police officers which are inadequate tracked ("How many police shootings a year? No one knows," Washington Post) is managing the aftermath, even riots, in terms of demonstrations, and public response to jury actions--who can forget the riot in Los Angeles after the police officers who beat Rodney King in the course of an arrest were acquitted ("What Ferguson Cops Can Learn From LAPD Response to Rodney King Riots," NBC News), and the need to improve "the system" so that police brutality and police killings don't occur.
Hundreds of demonstrators gather outside the White House to protest after the Ferguson grand jury decision in Missouri November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I didn't get to see the film Fruitvale Station, about the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART police officer, but I was amazed in the aftermath, that the new BART police chief authorized the cooperation with the filmmakers ("A Bay Area Killing Inspires 'Fruitvale Station'," New York Times, both to acknowledge the responsibility of the police department in the killing and the desire of and need for the police department to improve its practices so that such an incident would not reoccur.

Need for structural changes in criminal justice revenue generating practices in St. Louis County.   Much has been written about the kind of "involuntary poverty" produced by municipalities in Greater St. Louis and their system of arrests, ticketing, and fines--the fines are a major source of income for the municipalities--which for the impoverished create a spiral of problems that can be impossible to escape ("How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty," Washington Post).

Businesses have to plan for disruption and interruption.  And many of the businesses in Ferguson have boarded up their windows, even though the stores remain open, to limit the possibility of window breakage and other damage from demonstrations that may end up with violence.
(This is a McDonalds.) A man steps out of a vandalized store after the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked sometimes violent protests. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nothing gets accomplished when people destroy property and make it hard to conduct business- in fact- jobs leave areas like this and move to other places. Certain people like Sharpton and company love this kind of mayhem as it is the tip of the sword in a sort of shakedown politics- what kind of money can we get out of the Man for causing disruption and choas? And ultimately what does it gain? Is this self righteousness and celebration of lawlessness bringing dollars into these neighborhoods? Is it alll goin gto reverse what has happened? And maybe this kid was guilty of attacking the cop first ? Anyone consider this possibility?

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous h st ll said...

Note that the officer in the Oscar Grant trial was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served approx 2 years of jail time. He is also on parole.

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Well, Oakland's politics and power structure are different, no question. And there was no question that the police officer screwed up, less questionably than the case with Michael Brown.

But the reason I mentioned it is because of the movie and how the BART transit police chief recognized that the department had issues that needed to be addressed, and that even though the story wouldn't be favorable to BART, BART provided access to its facilities for the filmmakers.

Public institutions typically don't do that.


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