On the EDge: Oh yes, it is a matter of race

OPINION – Let me see if I’ve got this right.

If you are some redneck G.I. Joe wannabe wearing store-bought camouflage, you can point a loaded semiautomatic weapon at law enforcement with impunity.

If you are black, you assemble to probe the questionable death of a community member, and stand there with hands up, you get pelted with rubber bullets and tear gas.

If you are a cattleman who has refused to pay your grazing rights for decades, amassing a bill in the neighborhood of $1 million, the government will work with all civility through the courts to try to collect its money.

If you are an 18-year-old black man suspected of stealing a box of cheap cigars, you get shot to death in the street.

If you are a belligerent, bellowing old white man with some unknown grudge against the government, you get militia types from all over the West rushing to your home to defend you and your right to protest.

If you are a suburban minority community, you’re on your own.

Still don’t think there is racial inequity in these United States? Still don’t think the specter of hate and intolerance exists?

Now, before I go any deeper here, I must underscore that in no way do I condone violence. I will support vigorous protest and civil disobedience, but will never accept violence as a solution to any problem, whether at the international, national, or local level. I saw and experienced enough of that during the ‘60s when intolerant cops would use Mace and billyclubs to break up peaceful protests and crack a few skulls in the process; when the National Guard killed four unarmed college kids at Kent State; when I saw the “street justice” meted out to Rodney King in Los Angeles by LAPD and the riot, which could have been averted had the police chief acted appropriately, that ensued when those cops were found not guilty of assault charges. Later, of course, they were convicted for violating King’s civil rights and did time in a federal prison, a sort of adult day care facility in Southern California where their hard time consisted of working as groundskeepers at the facility.

While I condemn violence, I have empathy for the anger and outrage overflowing in Ferguson and understand why it has boiled over. An 18-year-old was shot and killed by a police officer for simply walking in the middle of the street. He is alleged to have stolen a $49 box of cigars from a local convenience store, but the cop who fired six rounds into him did not know that, according to the local police chief.

That said, I come from the St. Louis area, not far from Ferguson.

I have family living within a couple of miles from where the foment of racism overflows on a fairly regular basis. Several of my family members have worked for the St. Louis City and County police and nearby departments. I know what they are like when they take off the gun and badge and go off duty, and I am saddened, embarrassed at their attitudes and actions.

It is also terrifying to see the rapid militarization of our police forces. I mean, was there anything more ridiculous than seeing the Ferguson, Mo. police decked out in desert camouflage and military gear in the middle of the United States. Located more than a thousand miles from the nearest desert, what were they hoping to blend in with? More importantly, was there anything more disturbing than seeing these cops sitting behind turrets on assault vehicles on our streets, aiming their weapons at unarmed civilians?

When the feds showed up at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Bunkerville, Nev., they knew they were walking into an area where a heavy contingent of armed civilians – with more on the way – sat locked and loaded, ready to drop the hammer, or so they said.

At least there were cooler law enforcement heads at the faceoff in Bunkerville. It wasn’t so in Ferguson.

The cops didn’t exercise all of their aggression on the protesters, either, deigning to reel in a couple members of the media who were simply doing their jobs, working peacefully

in a local fast food joint when police busted in and ordered everybody out, roughing up a couple of them and hauling them off to jail. They ordered other members of the media to leave town, dropped tear gas on one crew as it began a live broadcast, and requested the FAA close airspace over Ferguson so news crews would be unable to fly over with cameras.

News media, however, has as much right to that turf as the police working that beat. As watchdogs for the community, it is their job to report, without fear or favor, what is going down on the streets of Ferguson, to be out on those streets, talking to people involved and reporting, not regurgitating the words of a police chief with an agenda to protect himself and his department or spokespersons well-versed in spin. I always discourage reporters from taking comments from spokespeople. Their version will always be crafted to evoke a certain message and put their client or coworker in the kindest light. The truth? It’s often a casualty of spin.

The officer who did the shooting, we are told, is a good cop with commendations. At least that’s what his boss says. We still haven’t seen his file and don’t know if, indeed, he is a good cop or if his jacket contains complaints from the community.

We do know, however, that the Ferguson Police Department is armed to the teeth with military-style weaponry and seems itchy to use it.

This was not a terrorist attack on the city of Ferguson. It was nowhere near the definition of a riot when the police swooped in. Yet the tactics used were rooted in blunt military force, the kind that should be reserved for the battlefield, not used on our own streets against our own people.

There was nothing similar among the protesters in Ferguson and those in Bunkerville. No weapons were drawn and aimed at the police in Ferguson; there were no threats of gunplay, as expressed by the gathered militia in Bunkerville; there was no anti-government rhetoric, unless you qualify “Hands up, don’t shoot” as dissident chorus.

The foreign press is looking upon us with a scant eye. Even the usually reserved BBC is referring to these events as Fergustan.

The people of Ferguson? They are receiving Tweets from residents of the Middle East with instructions on how to deal with tear gas and aggressive force.

And now, the National Guard has been called in.

It is citizens versus citizen soldiers now in Ferguson and it is to the point where even United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon weighed in Monday afternoon, calling on authorities to ensure that people are able to assemble peacefully and urging law enforcement to abide by U.S. and “international standards in dealing with demonstrations.”

Yes, it is that bad.

It all begs the question: Why did law enforcement withdraw when confronted by white guys with loaded weapons at the Cliven Bundy ranch, but become militarily aggressive when facing peaceful, black protesters in Ferguson?

And, of course, where are those militia guys now who claimed they were standing up for Bundy’s right to protest? Why aren’t they on the streets of Ferguson defending the rights of an oppressed minority community?

The answer is as clear, to me, as black and white.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • randy August 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    you’re kidding, right? this is the worst comparison i’ve ever seen. maybe you should get the facts before making this about race, but congrats, you’re helping the stereotype and furthering the problem.

  • DB August 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Ed, you say it’s a matter of race? You’re right. If a black cop shot an unarmed white man, the media wouldn’t have even bothered to interrupt their summer vacations. Instead, Furguson is crawling with reporters.

    • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 20, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      that is because it never happens!

  • starbugary August 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    You hit the nail on the head here ED. There is video evidence out now of Michael Brown paying for the cigarellos that he was accused of “Robbing”. Interesting that they referred to what was probably petty theft, shoplifting as “Robbery”. Even more interesting that it never happened, the convenience store never even called the police. The irresponsible and seemingly corrupt Ferguson PD released that video and pushed the narrative that Michael Brown had committed a Robbery even though it seems he didn’t and thereby have now put the convenience store and its employees in danger! And yes, where are Cliven Bundy’s militia? If they are so concerned about protecting the right to protest one would think they’d be front row in Ferguson!

  • Dana August 19, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    You forgot to mention the nights of violence….stealing…smashing…destroying someone else’s property…shootings…trashing the entire neighborhood…businesses destroyed. And for what? It’s being done under the guise of caring for the dead kid. BS.
    The whole world saw him steal the cigars and shove the store owner then walk back as if to hit him again. This wasn’t an innocent choir boy. This wasn’t a sweet innocent kid. And who cares if it was, in your words “…a box of cheap cigars…” It was not his. He stole it. Sorry he’s dead. But, he set himself up and placed himself in that situation.

    • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 20, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      So white kids in Saint George can get away with stealing,smashing etc. Oh wait lets just shoot them six times in the street.

  • Old Man August 19, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    “An 18-year-old was shot and killed by a police officer for simply walking in the middle of the street.” Oh you saw the shooting. You witnessed this with your our eyes.

    The friend said he was shot in the back running away. That has been proven wrong with all rounds in the front. What else has been left out in your RUSH to judgment.

    But I don’t expect anything else from you as You have proven your racial judgement for years.

  • Big Guy August 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Our resident racist is at it again: most social problems in his mind are rooted in race…which makes him a racist in the true sense of the word. He joins Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in rushing to any tragedy involving a black person mistreated or worse by a white and turning it into a media event to enhance his position as a self-styled community leader. Ed, how about addressing the 26 shootings of blacks by blacks in Chicago on the same weekend as the Ferguson tragedy? I see these events as cultural and social, not racial. How about some positive suggestions instead of thumping the same old “racial injustice” tub?

    • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Those are black people shooting other black people. That is why nobody cares!

    • The Rest Of The Story August 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

      “Cultural” and “Social”?
      Racism is a cultural and social problem.
      And you are clearly racist.

  • Alice August 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    I haven’t seen any peaceful protestors on the news in Ferguson. In fact I’ve seen taunts toward police officers, looting, fires started and mayhem everywhere. A perp walking backwards with his hands up can and does look like a few difference things to a police officer. Is he gonna run? And why? Is he gonna pull something? It’s scary out there, and the Police are on the front of everything.

  • Tara Faught August 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Ed, you leave me almost speechless! Let me explain the difference between the protesters in Bunkerville and those in Furguson! And yes there is a similarity but only in the fact that law inforcement is OVER militarialized. Funny that you weren’t complaining then that they were. Funny that the Bunkerville protesters did not ever destroy property or burn down buildings or shoot people! According to you the only protest going on in Furguson is a peaceful one. One where all protesters are just hanging around a little upset because someone from their community was shot and killed just walking down the street minding his own business. I’ve thought a lot about the difference between Bunkerville and Furguson and I know what the difference is…it’s not black and white…it’s respect! It’s having self control and believing in right and wrong. Cliven Bundy isn’t out stealing cigars and acting like a bully. He’s standing up for what America used to stand for before the government decided that they know better than all us little folk. It’s funny that you are so anti police now and apparently at other times but not during the Bundy standoff. What is the difference?? It’s too bad I couldn’t make it through all of your opinion, maybe you tried to explain it, or maybe it just changes with whatever big story is going on!

    • Koolaid August 19, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Bundy does not represent Americans except the freeloaders, moochers, the do nothings, racist, hateful and ignorant.

  • Marion August 19, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Well said Ed!

  • Shawn August 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I would never expect common sense in something with your name on it, but lets see if we can clear a couple things up.

    As much as the lame stream try to make everything about Race. It is much more about how the people present themselves. The fact that most of the same Race acts the same has everything to do with how the situation plays out.

    The whites at Bundys ranch. They didn’t burn buildings, loot business, or shoot guns. They were not a violent angry mob.

    You claim in Ferguson “If you are black, you assemble to probe the questionable death of a community member, and stand there with hands up, you get pelted with rubber bullets and tear gas.” After you burn down and start to loot business that is the reaction you get and deserve. If they protested peacefully and asked questions they would get treated different. The Police have to respond to the situation and the problem. Just as they did for Bundy.

  • Koolaid August 19, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Some Utahans seem not to distinguish between black and white. They just discriminate against everyone.

    • Bob August 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      well, maybe they’re not worthy

    • Jeeper August 20, 2014 at 1:31 am

      Everyone not wearing church approved undies that is.

    • Rick August 20, 2014 at 8:52 am

      Koolaid, you and your friend Jeeper are obviously ignorant morons. Congratulations.

      • tight magic undies August 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm

        Or maybe they are just observant.

  • Reason August 19, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Ignorance smiles when reading hate filled articles like this. You are deepening the divide. Using hate to fight hate? Yeah you probably consider yourself pretty smart and educated as well. Obvious that’s not the case.

  • Lance August 19, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    You are late to the lynching Ed, turns out the perp is a common urban gang banging criminal. Good riddance to him. So far as peaceful protest, they tore up a QT the 1st night since they thought that’s where the crime occurred and was reported. When they learned the true location following the video release, they looted and burned that one. Snitched get stitches, the code of the ghetto. 12% of the population doing 50% of the crime, you want racist Ed, math be racist. It was written by white guys after all, right? I can’t believe you get paid for such a pathetic article.

  • hangar1 August 19, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    This officer will not get justice. He will go down for this innocent or not. I just find it hard to believe this officer with six years of service would shoot this kid in full day light with all these witnesses’ without a justified reason. But I am willing to wait for the full details. Can you ED wait before claiming your 15 minutes of fame?

  • unknown August 19, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Wow this article is full of ignorance. Its reporters like you who are adding fuel to the fire. Reporting one side that sounds like it only came from other news sources. Just sad this victim wasn’t completely innocent and attacked the police officer while I will not say that being shot and killed was deserved there is a lot more than what you touched on in this article. Yes racism is still alive in this country but your article is really contributing to it. As the comparison made in this article are different circumstances and different periods in time. Not even a good comparison I might add.

  • traveler August 19, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    A shame what Utah has become…

  • Chaisters August 19, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Here’s something funny Ed, you were against Bundy’s stand against a militarized BLM, which you apparently supported, but are against a militarized police force in Ferguson…lol, which side of this “black and white” line do you stand on. Seriously, I don’t think you even really know. And before you rant and rave about where I stand on this, that really doesn’t matter since I’m not trying to be the voice of the people as you are.

  • neighbor lady August 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    It seems to me that this line or lines from a Sublime song fit nicely here:
    ” it wasn’t about Rodney King [Furguson], it was about the … situation and the… police”
    Black or white trash is trash: but, unfortunately the former get picked on more. And, sometimes even bring it upon themselves. I feel the same as Ed, violence does not solve problems, it brings more violence.
    Ed. ellipses.

  • Dave August 20, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Nice work, Ed! Way to draw out all the racists to crow about how racist you are for pointing out glaring inconsistencies in how “patriots” view and define their patriotism.

    It took days for the police to release the portion of the tape that appears to show Brown taking the cigars, which was really just the dog whistle that let white people stop caring because they no longer had to worry that a “good” black had been shot unjustly.

    And yet, while the narrative was still alive about him being “good” black kid, there was no NRA standing up for the rights of Ferguson citizens to open carry; no Tea Party blaring about government abuse of self-granted authority (THANK YOU to Rand Paul for finally addressing that in his op-ed). So it’s not about being innocent or law-abiding, as 99% of the protesters are and have been. It’s deeper, and it’s too bad that people can’t begin to admit that to themselves.

    It’s sad that folks who don’t live in racially diverse areas can’t at least go look at the livestreams themselves, and relies on one side’s reporting that confirms and reinforces their pre-existing views.

  • Not Convinced..... August 20, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I think there are some stereotypes in play, both at Bundy Ranch and in Ferguson but does anyone doubt that this cop was assaulted? This was a huge kid. He was big and acting irrational that day. That much was proven on film. Had the cigar shop owner pressed for his own civil rights it might have ended there with the clerk’s murder. Do we know if the kid was on meth (which will send people into rages) or what really happened? I don’t think so.

    Racism is a word I use when I know all the facts and to call someone prejudiced is one of the ultimate slanders in my book. My family is also from MO. It’s not a liberal or progressive state by any means…I get what Ed is saying…but if you grab ANY law enforcement officer, grab his firearm and discharge it, that officer is going to revert to instinct….they are humans. That cop wanted to go home, same as the cigar shop owner. I’m not sure what the kid wanted but he provoked both situations.

    It’s sad that good people are rioting now. Just because a white cop killed a black youth does not mean it was a racist act. It was a response to aggravated assault. What would your take be if the store owner had shot him?

  • DAVE August 20, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Eddie – did you recently travel out to Colorado and bring back some of that “Wax”, everyone’s talking about? – Because you must be high as a kite, to go off on that long-winded rant about alleged “racism”?

    I’ll bet that you still haven’t seen Michael Brown’s file and don’t know if, indeed, he is a good kid or if he was a up-and-coming menace-to-society?

    “Peaceful, black protesters in Ferguson?… defending the rights of an oppressed minority community? Are you blind, deaf, or dumb? Pick one for me, because it’s hard for me to fathom that someone who “has won numerous awards from the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists” can be so ignorantly biased in their opinions.

    ‘The answer is as clear, to me” – that you are somehow stuck in some hippie flashback of the 60’s and 70’s… that Michael Brown’s only crime, was for walking in the middle of the street…. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll read that (among his personal effects) he had some Skittles in his pocket? Or perhaps the internet will be inundated with memes of “If I had a son…v2.0” ?

    It is because of people with an ignorant mentality like yours, that our current-day society still continues to allow themselves to be brainwashed and cringe at the first cry of: “RACIST!!!”.

    Do you really believe that a 6-year veteran of the police, would just throw away his career… by executing a poor, innocent black youth… in broad daylight… JUST for walking in the middle of the street?

    … Yeah – You’re “Baked”!

  • Brian August 20, 2014 at 7:17 am

    This is the dumbest article I’ve read in a long time (and I read a lot, including a lot of Ed articles, and this takes the cake). The cops face didn’t just magically get broken (http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2014/08/breaking-report-po-darren-wilson-suffered-orbital-blowout-fracture-to-eye-socket-during-encounter-with-mike-brown/). Brown attacked him before he ever got out of his squad car, and plenty of eye witness accounts (including one caught on video at the scene, moments after it happened) all support the police officers account. But you have idiots there using the opportunity to loot, vandalize, and profit (like that idiot jesse jackson blatantly fundraising from this, and at least getting booed for it). I agree the police are way too over-militarized, but the problems in MO are way, way deeper than that. The lack of character of that community is astounding. The entire mentality is “I deserve a new pair of kicks or rims to remember whats-his-face, so my looting is justified”. Actually, they think all of their actions are justified everyday, and they have no moral compass to get in the way of that view.

  • Steve August 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

    So many things wrong with your thesis…wish I had time to comment on all of it. I’m afraid Ed Kociela doesn’t think the way most people in Utah’s Dixie do. I recommend the logical thinking of those who are native to this area.

    On the subject of the many problems in America’s black community, I recommend documentaries and books about the history of how all of this came to be. We need to understand a few hundred years of development in order to find solutions.

  • Rick August 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Not even close Ed. Other than the punctuation this piece was total garbage. Are the six readers of this “opinion” to suppose that you would let the “angry black mob” loot and burn down the entire town of Ferguson while Al and Jesse hand out matches? Would you just sit back and watch as they lynch and burn Officer Wilson?
    Why not anger and outrage for black killing black ? That is definitely a race issue. A race of disregard for most everything. Statistics this morning on the radio: 13% of Americans are African American, 50% of all crime in the US committed by African Americans, 90% of all African American homicides are committed by African Americans. Race issue….yes.

  • EL JEFE August 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Ed….where is your commentary on all the killings of young black males in Chicago??? That also is being perpetrated by “racists”. Where is your rant on those killings?? Being a minority myself, it has been my experience that the true racists in any environment is the one who writes articles/commentaries and general “bs” such as this. You are part of the problem yourself. You have worshiped at the temple of Obama so long that you show your true colors. You Mr. Kociela, are a true racist.

  • egor shulman August 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Don’t let facts get in the way of a premise you want to push. Shame on st George news for publishing this drivel full of misinformation.

  • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm


  • Incognegro (Josh Dalton) August 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Here is an idea lets put a flannel shirt, cowboy hat, and an AR-15 on Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, then what they do will be supported by those of you “wannabe rednecks” your NOT EVEN FROM THE REAL DIXIE! GO FALCONS!

  • Koolaid August 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    As if anyone in St George really cares

  • Red Rocker August 21, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Right on Ed.

  • The Rest Of The Story August 21, 2014 at 11:11 am

    While I agree 100% with your points about racism, I want to point out that for all the calling out of social injustice, Michael Brown’s name was not mentioned in your piece. Only the white man-Cliven Bundy-had the honor of being named by you. Could this be Freudian? Perhaps. Racism is so ingrained in our collective white psyche in the most subtle ways that we often don’t see it. It’s up to us whites to talk to each other about racism. The responsibility for racism lies with us and we must find ways to end it. By not naming Michael Brown and merely pleading his case in generalities, and while the tool of rhetoric is useful, we want to take care that we don’t end up inadvertently further de-humanizing the victims. In this case, the victim was Michael Brown. (De-humanization is both a cause and an effect of racism.)

  • Zonkerb September 25, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I’m from Georgia and was there during the civil rights movement and did 2 tours in Vietnam I’m sick and tired of all this oppressed minority crap put out by the racist garbage of Al Sharpton. what a disgusting worthless pos he is. there was a shooting of a BLACK cop that shot a BLACK teenager 2 days ago and not one word out of Al Sharpton and his banana tree society of looters and thugs

  • LaFawnda November 24, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Boom! No indictment! Nice try, Ed.

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