It began with the shooting death last August in Ferguson, Missouri of black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, then the choking death in New York of Eric Garner, and most recently the death of Freddie Gray while in Baltimore police custody. The racial tensions of Americans have been close to boiling if not boiled over. Angry protesters marching in the streets, looting, rioting, and just general destruction have almost become the norm. The debate has most definitely spilled over on to social media and it can be argued it is even worse there because of the anonymity of sitting behind a keyboard. The shooting of cops and white on black crime does not get the attention that these other high-profile cases have gotten because it does not fit the media template of racist cops randomly shooting black people when ever they wish. When they occur, many posts on websites and Facebook pages ask, “When do white people get to protest?” They already are, especially in Missouri.
While it certainly did not begin with the unrest in Ferguson, those events have certainly helped. The answer to the question, when do white people get to protest is simple. When white people protest, they move.
St. Charles county is right across the Missouri river from St. Louis county and places like Ferguson. Since the 2010 census, St. Charles county has remained one of the fastest growing counties in the state. The latest numbers from 2013 show that the county’s population is up by more than 5000 people. The populations of nearby Lincoln and Warren counties also continue to climb.
Is it a simple case of “white flight?” Maybe not. Real estate sales not just in Ferguson , but a good portion of North St. Louis county have gone down sharply. St. Charles county offers newer pricier homes and school districts that have not lost accreditation, like two North St. Louis County districts have. Could it be that St. Charles county residents, black and white, would simply not tolerate the disruptions and destruction that has been seemingly accepted in nearby St. Louis county?
St. Charles county also is larger than St. Louis city. A move to the suburbs could be the new form of permanent protest.