On Tuesday, a freelance journalist noticed that a no-fly zone had been issued over Ferguson, Missouri, the site of the recent protests over police violence.
The reason listed on the Federal Aviation Commission’s website for the no-fly zone over the city is “TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES.”
Are Ferguson police really worried about protesters flying attack drones over the city? Or is this to prevent news choppers from recording their behavior? In any case, Kevin Johnson's report in USA Today is certainly welcome:
Criminal justice officials have been quietly considering the revival of a landmark national law enforcement commission to provide new direction on a range of controversial issues confronting police, including officers' use of deadly force that have prompted recent protests in Missouri and New York, a federal law enforcement official said Tuesday.
The Justice Department is leading the broad review that, in addition to deadly force, will examine law enforcement's increasing encounters with the mentally ill, the application of emerging technology such as body cameras and police agencies' expanding role in anti-terrorism efforts since 9/11, said the official who is not authorized to comment publicly.
The militarization of police is obviously a recognizable trend in America, and it's an understatement to say "new direction" is sorely needed. It's troubling that Johnson doesn't mention race anywhere in what the commission would be likely to examine. We can't an honest discussion without directly addressing the institutional racism that many police officers display in these incidents. And we as a nation need a hell of a lot more to resolve this issue than the statement about Michael Brown and Ferguson that President Obama just issued:
The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.
What we deserve as an American community is the freedom to not be afraid of our police. Asking for reflection and understanding is not going to get us to that goal.