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Ferguson Demands Need a Libertarian Makeover

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted December 1, 2014

I don’t know what happened the day Michael Brown was shot.

ferusonjusticeMost of us don’t.

But here’s what I do know …

If there wasn’t a long history of police brutality in poverty-stricken cities, particularly within black communities, this incident wouldn’t have taken on the momentum that it did.

People in Ferguson didn’t riot because a police officer shot a black kid. They rioted because Michael Brown was just one more dead black kid in a long line of other dead black kids, killed by out-of-control law enforcement.

The bottom line is that it’s dangerous to be a black man in this country, and I support any peaceful effort to combat this continued threat. So when I stumbled across a group called Ferguson Action, and began reading its list of demands, I thought I was about to be treated to a well-thought out, peaceful call for action.

What I found, however, was a long list of things that I believe need some editing and clarification. So here’s my take on Ferguson Action’s …

Our Vision for a New America:
We Want Justice for Michael Brown. We Want Freedom for Our Communities

We Want an End to all Forms of Discrimination and the
Full Recognition of our Human Rights

The United States Government must acknowledge and address the structural violence and institutional discrimination that continues to imprison our communities either in a life of poverty and/or one behind bars. We want the United States Government to recognize the full spectrum of our human rights and its obligations under international law.

Governments tend to be violent institutions that, by their very nature, are discriminatory and do not recognize any rights than may interfere with their ability to rule, conquer and divide. There will never be an end of “all forms of discrimination” in the presence of government. Of course, there will never be an end to all forms of discrimination, period. People discriminate against each other all the time. This will always be the case. This is not something that can be legislated or ended because you wish it to be so.

We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And the
Murder Of Black, Brown & All Oppressed People

Every 28 hours a black person in the United States is killed by someone employed or protected by the government of the United States. Other communities are also criminalized, targeted, attacked and brutalized. We want an immediate end to state sanctioned violence against our communities.

Thus, the need to protect our own communities, using peaceful means (education, community-building, conflict resolution programs) instead of relying on government-sponsored violence. Black and brown people are typically considered guilty until proven innocent. Don’t give the system the opportunity to continue its violent attacks.

We Want Full Employment For Our People

Every individual has the human right to employment and a living wage. Inability to access employment and fair pay continues to marginalize our communities, ready us for imprisonment, and deny us of our right to a life with dignity.

Every individual does not have the human right to employment. Employment is either self-created or earned. Access to employment is the responsibility of the individual, not the state. Yes, government programs and meddling have placed unfair burdens on lower-income individuals and minorities. But this isn’t new. To truly escape poverty and violence, one must act in absence (and defiance) of the government.

As well, only individuals deny themselves a right to life with dignity. One can be dignified, regardless of social status, race, tax bracket or employment. My grandfather cleaned toilets on airplanes. He was one of the most dignified people I’ve ever known.

Bottom line: If you want full employment, don’t rely on the state – rely on yourself. You are smarter and more reliable than a system which is designed to benefit from keeping a majority of Americans fat, lazy and uneducated.

We Want Decent Housing Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings

Our communities have a human right to access quality housing that protects our families and allows for our children to be free from harm.

Individuals have a right to access quality housing. So if you desire quality housing, don’t rely on the state. Is it any wonder that government housing tends to be where we see so much crime? Community engagement, hard work and the desire to live in peace trumps any program that the government can dream up.

We Want an End to the School to Prison Pipeline & Quality Education for All

We want an end to policies that criminalize our young people as well as discriminatory discipline practices that bar access to quality education. Furthermore, we want all children to be able to access free, quality education. Including free or affordable public university.

Drug policy in the U.S. is the biggest facilitator of the school to prison pipeline. In the absence of drug prohibition you will find less violence and less young black men going to prison. All Americans, regardless of race should join together to end the insanely brutal war on drugs.

Now while I agree that all children should be able to access quality education, it is becoming increasingly clear that “free” public education is not the solution. The reality is, quality education begins in the home. If you don’t play an active role in your child’s education, the government will. And in most lower-income and minority communities, this has led to high drop-out rates and thousands of kids being sent off into the world without the necessary skills to compete in the marketplace. I would actually go so far as to that if we are shackled to the public school system (which doesn’t have to be the case), it’s really in our best interests to provide community schooling to replace or supplement public schools. These community schools could offer a much-needed alternative to a system that focuses more on standardized tests and less on real education and important life skills. As well, these community schools, which are developed by community leaders, will do a better job at reinforcing the values of those particular communities, whether it be religious, philosophical or vocational. Such systems can be developed in absence of the government and serve to not only better educate our children, but to build stronger communities, as well.

We Want Freedom from Mass Incarceration and an
End to the Prison Industrial Complex

We want an end to the over policing and surveillance of our communities. This will hasten an end to the criminalization of black and brown people and hyper incarceration everywhere. Policing in the United States has historically helped to enforce racist laws, policies and norms. The result is a massive prison industrial complex built on the warehousing of black people. We call for the cessation of mass incarceration and the eradication of the prison industrial complex all together. In its place we will address harm and conflict in our communities through community based, restorative solutions.

Addressing harm and conflict in communities through community-based, restorative solutions is a fantastic idea. With the success of such a model we will definitely see an end to over-policing. Sadly, however, surveillance in our communities has become the status quo. This is also something that should unite all Americans to fight – regardless of race.

The De-militarization of Local Law Enforcement across the country

Strict limits on the transfer and use of military equipment to local law enforcement and the adoption of the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act of 2014. The federal government should discontinue the supply of military weaponry and equipment to local law enforcement and immediately demilitarize local law enforcement, including eliminating the use of military technology and equipment.


A Comprehensive Review of systemic abuses by local police departments, including the publication of data relating to racially biased policing, and the development of best practices.

A comprehensive review by the Department of Justice into systematic abuses by police departments and the development of specific use of force standards and accompanying recommendations for police training, community involvement and oversight strategies and standards for independent investigatory/disciplinary mechanisms when excessive force is used. These standards must include a Department of Justice review trigger when continued excessive use of force occurs.

A comprehensive federal review of police departments’ data collection practices and the development of a new comprehensive data collection system that allows for annual reporting of data on the rates of stops, frisks, searches, summonses and arrests by race, age, and gender. These standards must also include a DOJ review trigger when departments continue discriminatory policing practices.

Law enforcement must always be held accountable for its actions. Oversight is paramount, yet this is not something that can be done successfully at the federal level. We know this after decades of failures regarding prosecution and police brutality.

Local, community-based policing allows for more stringent oversight and community involvement than anything the government can come up with, or would even be willing to subject itself to. The federal government does not have the capacity or desire to comply with such a demand. If the community has more involvement in its own policing practices, it will have more involvement in how those practices are reviewed and monitored.

A Congressional Hearing investigating the criminalization of
communities of color, racial profiling, police abuses and torture by law enforcement

Congressional hearings investigating the criminalization of communities of color and systemic law enforcement discriminatory profiling and other abuses especially at the local level—including an examination of systemic structures and institutional practices and the elevation of the experiences and voices of those most impacted. Congressional hearings will allow for a continuation of the national discussion about police abuse and it’s underlying causes.

Congressional hearings will allow for the a continuation of the national discussion about police abuse and it’s underlying causes. It will also be a huge waste of tax dollars because aside from some media attention, nothing will change. More laws won’t stop police misconduct. There are already plenty of rules in place for that, and clearly they don’t work most of the time. If you want to continue the national discussion, start a local discussion – and then act on those discussions. Talking won’t stop police brutality. Peaceful, rational action will.

Support the Passage of the End Racial Profiling Act

Support for the passage of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) which in law would prohibit the use of profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion by law enforcement agencies.

Don’t believe for a moment that such a law would end racial profiling. Unconstitutional searches and seizures happen every day in defiance of the Bill of Rights. If the fourth amendment won’t stop unethical police officers, a feel-good bill won’t. Support it all you want, but a better use of time would be spent building local, community policing programs.

The Obama Administration develops, legislates and enacts a
National Plan of Action for Racial Justice

The development and enactment of a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice by the Obama Administration. The National Plan of Action for Racial Justice should be a comprehensive plan that address persistent and ongoing forms of racial discrimination and disparities that exist in nearly every sphere of life including: criminal justice, employment, housing, education, health, land/property, voting, poverty and immigration. The Plan would set concrete targets for achieving racial equality and reducing racial disparities and create new tools for holding government accountable to meeting targets.

There are already laws in place to counter racial discrimination and disparities that exist in nearly every sphere of life. A “National Plan of Action for Racial Justice” is an exercise in futility. You’re basically just asking for permission to seek justice from a system that has no basis in fairness or justice.

Think Globally, Act Locally

As environmentalists often say, we should think globally, but act locally.

The truth is, while you may not be able to stop the next black kid from being harassed by the cops in a city 1,000 miles away, in coordination with your local community, you may be able to keep law enforcement at a safe distance. And that, dear reader, is worth a lot more than another law or congressional hearing.