Many of you already know I live nearby what is going on in Ferguson, MO. I’m actually not IN Ferguson, but roughly 10 min across the highway that divides Florissant from its neighbor city. What happens there ultimately affects what is going on here with our schools, police force, etc. Despite the many flaws people from around the world have seen of the police department during this debacle, they have done a great job in keeping it from overflowing into neighboring cities as best they can. My family is safe and our concerns are more for the families in that immediate area.
It’s been a difficult time dealing with the many layers of things going on. What began as a protest against the factual racial issues between the police and the residents of St. Louis has now become what appears like a war. The sad thing is that Ferguson has become the stage of many different fights against the system. There are a lot of people out there angry at how things are handled with the police with racial issues, brutality, militarization, etc. around the nation (and in some cases the world) and they have all come to this city to fight (whether peacefully or not). Know that many of the people coming over here to tear up our neighbors streets, to loot the businesses and harm the residents are not from here. They do not care if our kids don’t go to school, they don’t care if the businesses will never come back, they don’t care if people move and Ferguson becomes another urban dessert. They are angry and the media has a very great story.
It’s hard for me with all of this because I can see so many different sides to things at one time. I’m a Mom with a (soon to be) 17 year old boy that is 6’2″. He’s really big and he is my baby. Over the past year he’s done some things that are extremely stupid, things I couldn’t control but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent. I cannot imagine how that mother must feel with the world scrutinizing her. Within one week she lost her child, he laid in the streets for hours while everyone videotaped and then had to watch that over and over and over and over again on the news. Then she finds out that her child, that was so gentle in her eyes, robbed a store aggressively in an awful mocking way. She wanted to protest and she had the right to; then people started doing horrible things in the name of her son. She’s begged multiple times for people to stop and no one listens because it’s not even about her son anymore. Then she has all the awful things being said about him while still trying to deal with the fact that he’s gone.
How can any mom not sympathize with that? No matter what imaginary side you are on, there is still a mom grieving.
That brings me to these police officers out there on the streets right now and their families at home frightened to death. Their families and children have received death threats; some can’t go out without escorts. I’ve personally seen threats of rape to the wives of the police officers and we’ve all seen them having bricks thrown at them, rocks, Molotov cocktails, glass bottles and bullets. I can understand that people are angry, but these officers are just following orders. They’ve been given some completely stupid ones at times, but that isn’t their fault and it sure isn’t the fault of their families.
Saying all the cops are bad because of one cop’s actions is just as bad as saying all the protesters are criminals because some of them are looters. And no matter if they were a bad cop or a looting criminal, their wives and children should not be threatened because of it.
The point is that no matter what opinion you have come up with in this situation, you can not refuse to have compassion for the innocent people that are hurting and scared at home.
The residents of Florissant and Ferguson are tired. While people flood in from all over the world to prove their points and the media is out running around for the next story, we are tired. The majority of us are at home and depending on where we live, afraid to go out at night. Our children can’t go to school because they refuse to stop fighting in the street. I don’t care who started what, everyone there is responsible for our children’s inability to attend school. The protesters in the street at night, the criminals, the media and the police force. They are all responsible for our kids not being able to go to school. I realize that not a single one of them cares because they are so focused on what they deserve and what they want, but my son deserves to have his first day of Kindergarten. He deserves to have his therapy and to make new friends. All of our children deserve to have an education.
So we’re tired. We get it, many of us get the point of it all, but we just want people to stop the madness at night so we can stop being afraid and so our children can go to school. I know that isn’t good for ratings. I know that’s not good for everyone sitting around on Twitter taunting them every night, I know that it means giving up a right to protest at night but I don’t feel our children should be the sacrifice for those things.
Tomorrow I will wake up and I’ll have to tell my son he won’t be starting school until the rest of the week and then we don’t know. He’ll be confused and heartbroken like all the other children out there. Some parents with older children have had to deal with questions about if black or white people hate them, why do they hate them, why do they hate their dad or mom or color. On all sides of this there are scared children that are afraid of police officers or the protesters for their actions. And for many parents they will have to deal with a lot of tears, a lot of fear and a so much pain that I’m afraid will not go away after this.
As the days unfold many of us residents will come to realize that it is entirely possible that after the media leaves, after the protesting is done and whatever verdict comes from this happens – our home values will plummet. People will move, tax dollars will go elsewhere and our schools will suffer. It is said that no area has ever come back from a riot and Ferguson is already dealing with the loss of business and residents. As I said, what happens in Ferguson happens to all of its neighbors and North County had been struggling for a long time with its reputation. We know that if we don’t hold on as a community, if we don’t find a way to come together that we will all fall and we will all fail.
So while you are watching your news and fighting among yourselves on your opinions, understand that there are families here. Have compassion for the children in our cities, the families of the officers that must do their jobs and for the Brown family who had lost someone they loved. You do not have to believe in what another believes in to have understanding. You do not have to even agree with them to have compassion. These elements of our human spirit are what make us better people. Without them we are no better than the ugliness we stand to fight.
Thank you to everyone who has given their prayers and thoughts to my family. It means a lot. And thank you to my dearest friend who has held my hand through all of this from the very first night just as our children have and always will.