The National Guard Comes To Dinner – A Local Perspective

So in light of the tragic execution of 18 year old Mike Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer and the civil unrest that has occurred since, the National Guard has been deployed to the St. Louis County township in hopes of keeping the peace. The opposite will prove to be true and I’ll explain why.

In my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, there were days of rioting following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April of 1968 and Wilmington Mayor John G. Babiarz BEGGED then-governor Charles Terry for any kind of assistance to calm the fears of Wilmington, which had always been a mixed-raced city, but white residents owned most businesses then. Terry then sent in the National Guard, who was only supposed to stay in Wilmington for a few days. The last day the Guard was in Wilmington was January 21, 1969 – NINE months later, still the longest military occupation of any American city. Of course the Guard did more significant physical damage in Detroit and Newark, NJ in 1967, but the lasting effects in Wilmington are still felt to this day, mostly of an economic and racial nature.

My mother, then a junior high student, relayed the stories to me of an extended curfew, the Guard riding around neighborhoods in their Jeeps, even poking residents with their bayonets to force them back in their homes close to curfew. It sounded like Hell then and it will probably be as such for the Ferguson residents. When you talk about agitating an already-pissed off community (and rightfully so), bringing in the National Guard to collaborate with an already abusive, rogue and corrupt police force, it’s just adding fuel to the fire.

And unless the officer who executed Mike Brown in cold blood has his day in court, the flames will continue to be fanned and rise until it becomes a towering inferno that no one can ignore.


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