The best phrase to describe Ferguson Missouri since the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown might be “revolving door”. Even though many Ferguson residents took to the streets demanding “justice” for the unarmed teen, be it real or manufactured, there have been many adherents to the now famous line uttered by former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, “never let a good crisis go to waste”. In this case, some of the worst behavior comes from local politicians. As usual, this is not surprising.
Patricia Payne, a Committeewoman from Ferguson, led the way in the initial volatile days after the shooting, in a rather heated and fact-starved interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity. As a representative for all Ferguson residents, one might have thought that Ms. Payne would have at least wanted to give the appearance of being objective. But emotion apparently ruled the day. Antonio French is the Alderman for St. Louis City’s 21st Ward. That’s right, the city’s 21st ward. Mr. French does not reside in Ferguson, but took the day off from the violence plaguing his own neighborhood, and many others in the city of St. Louis, to help see to it that chaos reigned just a bit longer.
The most egregious offenders of the non-crisis averting political class is hands down, Ferguson’s very own Missouri State Senator, Maria Chappelle-Nidal, and State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, whose senate district again, is in the city.
Recently, a “List of Demands” was posted to social media by a group calling itself the “Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition”. Among the demands were such things as Officer Darren Wilson being immediately charged with murder, and St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCullough being removed from the case. But the most telling, and quite frankly chilling aspect of this document, is who has signed on to it. Let’s take a look at some of the organizations that Maria Chappelle-Nidal and Jamilah Nasheed, public servants with constituents of all races, have aligned themselves with.
The Universal African Peoples Organization is headquartered in St. Louis in an unassuming storefront on a city corner. Their website touts all sorts of wonderful community projects like voter registration and urban gardens. But scroll down to the bottom, or better yet, click on all of the headers on the website, and you will find an organization that calls itself a “progressive, business, political, humanitarian, educational and expansive society; founded and advanced by people desiring to work for the general uplifting of people of African descent throughout the world”. Sounds very lofty, but they also encourage African-Americans to seek out and join other progressive groups. Then there is the Malcom X and Marcus Garvey annual celebrations.
Another group on the Michael Brown hit parade is known as the Organization for Black Struggle. This group is headed up by a woman named Jamala Rogers. A newspaper columnist by trade, she has also been -you guessed it- a community organizer, and has ties to the Black Panthers. She also founded a group called Freedom Road Socialist Organization, which was essentially a merger of two smaller communist groups in the 1980’s.
The other usual suspects are of course, present and accounted for. The Nation of Islam, The New Black Panther Party, and the NAACP. Malik Zulu Shabazz, once a big-wig with the Black Panthers, now head of a legitimate sounding organization called “Black Lawyers for Justice”, also signed the demands document.
Several clergy and the St. Louis Urban League are named on the document, but neither have the incendiary reputations of the other groups.
Maria Chappelle-Nidal and Jamilah Nasheed have been duly elected by the voters of their districts. They are accountable to their constituents for their words and actions. The voters in their respective districts should know who their elected officials align themselves with. They need to know exactly what kind of justice these two sitting state senators are advocating for. Justice in its purest form, or social justice?