WASHINGTON, August 21 (RIA Novosti), Leandra Bernstein – The decision to call in the National Guard to quell protests in Ferguson, Missouri is only inflaming the situation, the president and cofounder of Communities United Against Police Brutality, Michelle Gross told RIA Novosti.
“Their presence is already inflaming matters,” Gross said in an email on Wednesday.
Criticizing the decision by Governor Jay Nixon to deploy the National Guard, Gross said, “For decades, National Guard troops have been used by governors to violently suppress dissent, including killing protesting college students.”
The demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri have been ongoing following the August 9 police killing of 18 year old, unarmed African-American resident, Michael Brown. These are the longest lasting protests over police brutality since the Watts rebellion in 1965, according to Gross. Reports indicate that the presence of the National Guard has done little to curb the unrest. There is also concern that the National Guard could resort to violence, as it occurred in 1970 at Kent State, where National Guard troops were responsible for the killing of four students during anti-war demonstrations.
With the policy of increased militarization of law enforcement, and the lack of accountability for police officers who engage in violent conduct, “we are likely to see more of these uprisings in both big cities and small towns,” says Gross.
“What remains to be seen is whether we learn anything from them. The answer is transparency and accountability, not violent clampdowns on dissent,” the activist added.
Gross called for real action to be taken against the officer, who allegedly shot Michael Brown. “Rather than bringing in more troops to suppress dissent, the smart thing to do would be to treat Darren Wilson, the officer who gunned down Michael Brown, like any other member of the community, who had shot someone—arrest him while the matter is investigated,” the statement said.