WASHINGTON, December 2, 2014 — Louis Head, Michael Brown’s stepfather, stood on a car following the Grand Jury’s decision and called for those surrounding him to “Burn this bitch down!” In interviews, attorney Benjamin Crump has said that there were riots following the shooting, not just the grand jury announcement, and that Head’s comments were made in the heat of the moment. They were the result of emotion, and they did not incite rioters.
Of course Head’s emotional anguish influenced those around him. The question is whether a single voice can be held accountable for inciting the riots.
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has repeatedly called for the arrest of Michael Brown’s stepfather. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said that they are pursing those comments: “There is a lot of discussion going on about that right now.”
The total cost of the riots is still unknown, but the damage is very real to the burned out, vandalized and looted businesses.
And there are costs that can never be recovered. Deandre Joshua, only 20 years old, was found dead inside his car, the driver’s window shot out near the Canfield Green Apartments, near where Michael Brown was killed.
The body had been doused in accelerant in an attempt to set the car and body on fire.
Police are investigating the shooting as a homicide; there is little doubt had there been no riots, Joshua would not be dead. Renita Towns, his grandmother, says she does not believe police will put any effort into finding Joshua’s killers. “Police don’t care. He’s black.”
While Ms. Town’s sentiments sum up how the Black community feels, they do not excuse the actions of the persons, white or black, who killed Joshua. Nor do they excuse the death of Bosnian immigrant Zemir Begic who was beaten to death with hammers when his car was surrounded by teenagers in St. Louis, just 20 miles from Ferguson. Following the attack on Begic, the same teens, Robert Mitchell, 17 along with an unidentified 15 and 16 year old, attacked another man who was able to escape.
Police are insisting that those attacks were not related to Ferguson, but it is hard to not see how violence begets violence.
Police Chief Jackson has said police are trying to identify looters via interviews and a large number of photo and video images captured by the media and others. Those rioters could face charges for the destruction of numerous business — and jobs — including:
- Ferguson Market and Liquor Store, where Michael Brown started this chain of events by stealing cigars, was vandalized and merchandise looted.
- During the riots, five businesses, were burned including the Fashions R Boutique, Title Max and an Auto Zone store.
- A Ferguson storage facility was burned.
- The Family Dollar Store was burned.
- Dozens of cars were torched at a Auto by Credit dealership in Dellwood, Mo
- A Dellwood Conoco service station convenience store was destroyed by fire
- The Dellwood Market was looted.
- Sam’s Meat Market on West Florissant was looted and set on fire
- Ferguson’s Little Ceaser’s Pizzeria was burned to the ground as was the Hidden Treasures antiques and collectible store, owned by a local woman, next door.
- St. Louis Fish Chicken and Grill was set on fire.
- Cathy’s Kitchen, which was protected by residents during the first riots, suffered broken front windows as did the El Palenque Mexican Restaurant.
And we cannot forget the real people harmed by this vandalism:
On On Chop Suey is owned by immigrant Sam Chow who came to America 11 years ago, working to save the money to open his own business in 2009. That restaurant was badly damaged by vandals.
Natalie Dubose of Natalie’s Cakes and More bakery that opened in June, was devastated when the plate glass windows of her business were destroyed. The realization of an entrepreneur’s dream, after the shooting, her business dwindled to nothing for two weeks and then, there months later, her store was vandalized.
The damage was not confined to Ferguson; in Oakland, California, eighteen businesses reported damage, including a Subway restaurant that was damaged during protests when vandals smashes windows and used spray paint to destroy walls.
The idea that persons who caused that destruction should be held financially responsible and made to pay restitution, including via garnishments of paychecks and welfare checks, is gaining public support.
Others want these individuals to be brought forward, publicly shamed and given community service in order to help rebuild the communities and businesses they have destroyed. Money is being raised by individual shop keepers via crowdsource funding and the I Love Ferguson Committee fund that is raising money and working to help rebuild the destroyed businesses of Ferguson.
Insurance on many businesses will cover the cost of repairs, but it will not cover the loss of lives like Joshua’s or the loss of paychecks suffered in the weeks just before the holidays of the persons who have lost their livelihoods.
In his Fox News oped, Cal Thomas (What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America) writes:
We’ve gotten away from personal responsibility and accountability, preferring instead to cast lawbreakers as “victims,” when the true victims are often ignored. Too often many blame others for their circumstances.
Too often many feel entitled to what others have achieved through hard work and dedication.
Too often too many feel justified in taking and destroying the property of others instead of working and building for themselves.
If they don’t feel ashamed, they should.