Three Minutes To Midnight

Perform a Google search for the term Doomsday Warning and a curious mixture of results pop up. On one side of the coin stand the naysayers who earlier this year advanced the symbolic Doomsday Clock two minutes because of concerns about global warming / climate change / or what people sometimes call weather.DoomsdayClockOn the coin’s reverse are other naysayers (so-called preppers and survivalists, economic forecasters, purveyors of precious metals, etc.) who are just as certain we’re moving closer to midnight … but their basis for saying so differs from the Doomsday Clock crowd. Continue reading “Three Minutes To Midnight”

Immolation Play

Nothing left.” That’s how St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described the situation after a night of looting and burning and misconduct in Ferguson MO. He gets more specific when he explains between Solway Avenue (on the south) and Chambers Road (north), all along West Florissant Avenue, the destruction is so substantial, there is virtually nothing left.

Walking distance from Chambers to Solway is slightly more than a mile. Imagine, if you will, walking that distance down a four-lane wide main city artery where the businesses and buildings on either side have been reduced to piles of rubble and ash.NorthlandShoppingCtr

Once upon a time, I worked in the Northland Shopping Center (pictured above) at the southernmost point of this destruction. This particular shopping center was opened in 1955 when suburban St. Louis shoppers shed their interest in shopping downtown and shifted to regional shopping malls. During the period of time when I worked at this mall, I drove (from my home further west) into the area along I-270 and exited south at West Florissant Avenue (where there were also reports of looting at the Toys R Us). I followed West Florissant south for three miles to the above parking lot. Continue reading “Immolation Play”

Battle Lines

With all the chatter in the news and online about the so-called “militarization of local police departments,” I decided it was time to pitch in my two cents. In the days following #Ferguson, the hue and cry has been incessant. Commentators who had previously broached the subject (of supposed militarization) nodded their heads, anxious to remind others of their brilliant insight.ferguson-police-700

Capitalizing on the current hysteria about law enforcement militarization, the ACLU released its opinion on the subject in a July report titled “The War Comes Home.” This report promotes a perception that the weapons used to fight our wars over the last 20 years have been purposefully brought from the battlefields in foreign lands to hyper-arm our home-based law enforcement units. Further, the ACLU suggests the attitudes of war are pervasive among state-side police officers, who have adopted “a warrior mentality … who think of the people they’re supposed to serve as enemies.Continue reading “Battle Lines”

An Officer And A Son

My older son is a police officer. Soon to celebrate his 35th birthday, he’s served proudly over the last decade with our local police department. He is pleased to be a member of an excellent department where officers are expected to excel at the highest levels. He and his fellow officers are conscientious and dedicated. OfficerAdamOnMotorcycle

Over the last week, I’ve read numerous disparaging remarks (either on Twitter or Facebook or in the blogosphere) and viewed news reports where the broad brush of hatred paints all policemen as pigs. These descriptions don’t comport with what I know to be true.

I’ve already posted my initial reaction to the situation in Ferguson MO. As this situation continues to receive additional sensational coverage from news outlets far and wide, the disturbing aspects become harder to dismiss. Before I revisit the matter, though, I think it’s important to emphasize all the facts are not yet known to the public. As with any situation of this serious nature, facts should trump rumors. Discovering what happened ‒ in toto ‒ is the only acceptable path.

At the same time, facts are subject to interpretation. In this case, we already know several facts including the fact (based on clear security camera images) that Mr. Brown accosted and intimidated a store clerk, and then proceeded to leave the store with merchandise for which he hadn’t paid. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude from this one security camera image-capture that Mr. Brown was a garden-variety thug who, given his large (300 pounds) and menacing presence, was capable of (and willing to use) physical intimidation. Continue reading “An Officer And A Son”

Time For Activism

As I drove southwest from St. Louis yesterday around noon, I was oblivious to news of the upheaval occurring in Ferguson MO. Sunday morning radio programs don’t offer much news and after a couple rounds of the dial, I switched over to my books on tape for the remainder of my trip. Once I’d arrived home, though, I began seeing tidbits about “tanks in St. Louis” on my twitter feed.

Naturally, I was concerned … having just left my mother’s home. Her home is not near where the trouble erupted, thankfully. But the idea of elderly folks cowering in fear because of violence (or threats of violence) was a disturbing prospect. (My mom is not defenseless, but I’m afraid macular degeneration has not improved her aim!)

I’m relatively familiar with the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson where looting and vandalism took place Saturday night and into Sunday morning. (Some reports seem to indicate the violence continues even now.) This area is less than six miles northwest from the neighborhood where I lived during elementary school and five miles from Hazelwood (where we lived when I was in junior high and high school). I took my driving test at the Ferguson testing center. My aunt and uncle lived in Ferguson for many years. As with so many of the STL suburbs, our family enjoyed Ferguson’s amenities or we traveled through her on the way to other nearby suburbs.

People in the community of Ferguson (and others everywhere) should wait patiently for all the facts about this incident to be fully determined. Currently, we know a young man (teenager) is dead at the hands of a policeman. The outrage this incident has generated in Ferguson is understandable; but the subsequent looting and vandalism are inexcusable and distract from what is most important, a young man’s life ending tragically. Continue reading “Time For Activism”