Is It Fair to Blame Ferguson Violence on Poverty?

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

On August 9, a police offer in St. Louis County, Ferguson, Missouri shot eighteen year-old Michael Brown to death in front of a few witnesses. Brown was unarmed, and stories conflict between witnesses and law enforcement as to what transpired. Police say that Brown and the officer were in an altercation in which Brown pushed the officer and attempted to wrestle his gun away. Brown’s friend, who was present for the shooting, said that Brown was shot without reason, unarmed, and that he had not attempted to reach the officer’s gun.

Since then, the city has seen racial tensions erupt into violence; riots and protests amidst mourning; and police response some consider overexertion, including SWAT teams, rubber bullets, tear gas, and armored vehicles.

Events Unfolding

Since then, discussions about why what’s happening in Ferguson have grown in parallel with each new development. The racially charged response has been compared to Trayvon Martin’s shooting. The use of police force has been compared to events in Egypt — and the police equipment to military outfits in Afghanistan. Molotov cocktails have been thrown, stores broken into and looted. A pregnant woman was thrown to the ground and a woman received a gun shot wound Sunday on the most recent and violent night of protesting, which resulted in an emergency curfew and the National Guard being called in to help control the situation.

Meanwhile, the name of the officer who shot Brown has been released, Darren Wilson, who has given his description of events — that Brown was walking in the street and was shot multiple times after he failed to stop attacking and advancing upon being shot the first time. In total, early autopsies show a shot to the head that was the one to kill Brown, and at least five others, but don’t answer questions about how events transpired.