Monday, August 18, 2014

If I were in charge of the Michael Brown protests in Ferguson, MO...

... I'd immediately move them to downtown St. Louis, Missouri.  Specifically right outside the game day main entrances of Busch Stadium (Cardinals) and Edward Jones Stadium (Rams).

This accomplishes several things.

1.  You take advantage of the fact that you're a close suburb of a major Midwestern city with two professional sports franchises.  And you have public transportation (inexpensive city buses) that can be utilized to efficiently move large groups of people.  According to google, the drive to the baseball stadium is 19 minutes from Ferguson.  The drive to the football stadium takes 16 minutes.  Just enough time to properly rally the troops during your brief interstate excursion.

2.  It better harnesses the power of the First Amendment and uses freedom of assembly provisions to your advantage.  As the Scorpions would say (before they sucked) - Big City Nights, you keep me runnin'.

3.  The newly instituted curfews would have less of an impact.  It diminishes the state's ability to impose their brand of control.  If the police extend the curfew to other areas, it makes them appear overzealous and acting with no discretion.

4.  Whatever the message, it's heard by a larger audience.  And it enhances the possibility of large quantities of people unexpectedly JOINING the protest.  Both stadiums draw strong crowds.  Busch Stadium has a capacity of 46,000 and is general filled.  This is especially relevant because they play on weeknights.  Edward Jones Stadium maxes out around 70,000.  Adds to the perceived ethnic diversity of the protesting group as well, thus giving it greater credibility.  Now it's just not the residents of Ferguson, it's the citizens of St. Louis.

5.  It makes for even greater media exposure from unexpected sources.  If the sports announcers fail to reference the ongoing protests outside, it makes them look indifferent or biased, or at the least, unprofessional and approaching a level of borderline incompetency.

6.  If the governor chooses to call in the National Guard OR mobilize local SWAT teams... all of a sudden, they're seemingly harassing wealthier, mostly whiter individuals that just wanted to enjoy America's favorite past times.  Any routine demonstration of excessive force and militarization has a much greater possibility of being greeted with utter disdain.  When the militarized police are made to look bad (gas masks, tanks and k-9 units, etc.), you look good.

And not only that, but now the police have additional considerations which requires more planning and a fresh overall assessment.  Different crowd variables call for varied approaches, more overtime pay, strategy meetings, strained government resources, etc.  Bleed them from within. 

7.  It takes time to properly mobilize all those police units and command/control systems.  Their effectiveness is diminished if you start to ping pong between different locations.  Who's ultimately in charge of maintaining order becomes open to bureaucratic debate and law enforcement rival egos.

8.  Not only is it a mess for high profile politicians in a recognized swing state, it also pisses off some very wealthy individuals.  There's a guy worth about 4 billion that owns 1/2 of the Rams.  His name is real estate mogul Stan Kroenke and he owns a bunch of other sports teams --- (Denver Nuggets (basketball), Colorado Rapids (soccer) and Colorado Avalanche (hockey).

See!  You just superempowered yourself and made a multi-billionaire even more unhappy. 

Here's what is important.  It sets a precedent.  It puts him and other team owners on notice that their organizations could get drawn into future "ugly publicity" events, skirmishes and civil unrest.  There's even the possibility of looting or senseless automotive vandalism.  Think about it... what if a bunch of protesters go on a window smashing spree?  Who the hell is going to park their car in the nearest stadium lot?  What if there's the perception of possible violence.  Who would knowingly expose their children to this? 

9.  And in keeping with the spirit of the #8, three simple words.  BAD FOR BUSINESS.  Emotions are one thing, but if you hit 'em in the pocketbook, that's where it really hurts the most.  In that same vain, I would encourage people to make signs about police brutality and bring them INSIDE sporting venues.  If the stadiums and ballparks begin to crack down, they'll be opening themselves up to litigation.  Personally, I find an unarmed person being shot by the police 6 times more offensive than a sign that reads, "WE WANT JUSTICE."  Make that a hundred times more offensive.

10.  Some fans might start to feel actual guilt or remorse.  These people are out here protesting in the hot sun and then there's me... venturing from an air conditioned SUV into a climate controlled dome so I can drink overpriced beer and watch black people brutalize each other.  It sends a clear message --- this problem is everyone's problem, not just an isolated crisis in a poor, minority suburb.

BONUS:  After the Michael Brown shooting saga comes to a close and the media's interest dissolves, you can morph the reason for protesting into a different cause... oh, I dunno...  maybe artificially generated stampedes.

1 comment:

sonofsaf said...

I've been giving this some thought. The precise circumstances surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown is a media flashpoint but it's not the central issue. People will believe it unfolded however they wish. The facts are of increasingly little consequence. It's more about the 3 P's. Media portrayal, perception and ongoing presence.

The overriding problem is the "militarization" of local police forces. This is what everyone identifies with. If you can shift the media's focus and keep the story going, this aspect's a winner.

If your focus is the Dems --- you push the oppression and civil rights angle. If your focus is the Reps & Tea Party types --- you push the unnecessary militarization and financial waste.

This issue will continue to linger and from a political standpoint, it's a tough nut to crack. If you take a nuanced position (Hillary), you lose points. If you take a strong stance (Rand Paul), you ultimately benefit.

Just my take.