Ferguson burning

Analyzing media interpretation of the Missouri riots

Rudy Rodriguez

On Aug. 10, a recent high school graduate named Michael Brown was shot dead by a St. Louis county police officer in Ferguson, Mo. At this point, that is the only fact we know to be true.

In the days after the shooting, it was difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. What we do know is that the death of Michael Brown has sparked media attention, national outcry, and riot and looting surges.

Before trying to understand the violence over what should have been a peaceful protest, we have to acknowledge both sides of the issue.

I sat with Rick Young, director of International Rescue and Relief, who has 32 years of police experience and was a police lieutenant in Glendale, Calif., a county of Los Angeles.  

When asked about his view about the situation in Ferguson, Young simply stated, “We don’t know all the facts on the case.”  The media has caused such a firestorm that people are jumping the gun by speculating what happened without knowing the whole story. When asked Young what he would have done if he was in charge of case, he stated that he would work to gather all the facts by reviewing evidence from the crime scene and talking to the family so the media can release the truth of the case.

When asked why Union College students should care, he answered “We should care because it should alarm us how corrupt our world is becoming. We need to be looking into the officials we are voting for to clean up the police force. We should look at what happened and try to figure out a way to prevent it from happening.”

Sophomore Dashon Maxwell has a special connection to the situation. Growing up in St. Louis, he remembers playing around the very same area that has broken out in riots. “The media paints Ferguson as a city in a state of anarchy,” Maxwell stated. “All the people there are actually nice people. I hate how they are being painted as animals.”

When asked about what the police could have done differently, Maxwell brought up the training and the type of cops that being put on the force. “They had other means of putting him down rather than just shooting the guy.”

In answering the question of why Union College should care, Maxwell said, “What would Jesus do if he was there on the streets of Ferguson?” Going to a Christian college, the term WWJD becomes so overused, but in this case what would He do? As student body we should be able to think about bettering the world not for ourselves but for the rest of humanity.

Rudy is a sophomore communication and social science education major.