Who’s tired of hearing about the ugliness in Ferguson, Missouri? Me, for one. I’m tired of watching a community commit suicide by Molotov cocktail, while dedicated police officers try to contain the chaos without getting hurt. I’m tired of hearing stories of minority persecution, judicial inequity and poverty. I’m also angry about the continued total lack of effective leadership by public officials in Ferguson. Heads need to roll, and I’m not talking about Officer Wilson’s.
Don’t get me wrong, the shooting was tragic, and the conversation on racial inequity is important. But, the continued violence could have been avoided, or at least tempered, with courageous and empathetic leadership on the part of local officials, before and after the shooting. I previously shared my thoughts on this here and here.
The highly regarded British newspaper, The Guardian, published a spot on article yesterday highlighting leadership failures by five of the prominent public officials involved in this debacle. One of the author’s most astute observations involved the Ferguson mayor;
“Despite being the city’s highest-ranking elected official, Knowles appeared bewildered by the notion of responsibility for what was happening. “Somebody needs to own it,” he said to the New York Times of the crisis at one point. “That’s the problem. Even on the government side, nobody’s owned it.” He added later, “Somebody needed to say, ‘I’m in charge.’”
This lack of credible and empathetic leadership continues to feed protests across the country. Perhaps there is no answer for now. But, out of the thousands of ongoing conversations and conflict, this police chief’s recent interview perhaps was what was needed in Ferguson months ago.
Obviously, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn’s comments were born out of frustration and internal issues in his department and community. But, on the fly he effectively communicated the frustration and tragedy of racial violence and police related shootings. Well done Chief.