8/19/2014 – – A friend of mine was talking the other day about the dueling narratives around the events in Ferguson, Missouri. There have been a wide variety of explanations and stories about what happened in the tragic death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. They were the strange reports about the victim being a suspect in a robbery. But then it appeared the arresting officers did not know that. There have even been competing autopsies of Michael Brown's body – – a really macabre development.
What cannot be denied is this: shootings, even unjust shootings, even racially provocative shootings, occur in America, unfortunately, from time to time. But they usually do not lead to weeks of rioting. The heart of the matter was stated by David Lieb, a writer for Associated Press, as follows: "in Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb of St. Louis, many residents say they have long been harassed and intimidated by the police department…."
Building ties with the community is a long-term effort. An effort that has apparently been neglected in Ferguson. Whatever the facts turn out to be with regard to the death of Michael Brown, no one can deny a real failure of police community relation building.