FERGUSON, Mo.—Protesters here began smashing glass windows and looting local businesses early Saturday morning, before others calling for calm stepped in and barricaded broken windows to prevent further theft…

Just after midnight, protesters who had been content to stay on the sidewalks all Friday moved en masse into the streets and confronted police officers, who donned riot gear and drove up in armored vehicles for the first time since Wednesday…

Young men in masks kicked in the front door of a liquor store, and began looting bottles. The glass door of a beauty-supply store was also kicked in, but other men quickly stood guard to prevent looters from going in…

For almost an hour, some protesters were able to protect businesses from looters, but then the crowds grew in size and strength. The looters pushed through, first going into the liquor store, Ferguson Market and Liquor, which had been raided briefly earlier in the night.

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“This is wonderful. This is what should have happened a long time ago,” Robert Powell, 42, said as he watched looters during the night hop through the shattered glass door of a meat market…

He dismissed the looters as “suburban nerds” likely to get busted. But after years of living in a town in which he said African American men are singled out for harsh treatment by the police, he shared the looters’ frustration.

He gestured to surrounding businesses, whose fluorescent lights were now shattered, their parking lots strewn with broken bottles.

“They support these police, give them free food. People just got tired of it,” he said.

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Police presence is in question after St. Louis County and Missouri State Highway Patrol officers left the scene in Ferguson once looters began attacking businesses overnight.

Protesters believe the media has started to confuse the difference between themselves and the looters. Fights have begun on the streets as well as social media with some believing this has become similar to a game of chess.

According to one peaceful protester, several of them literally put their bodies in between the looters and the different businesses. She feels their efforts were forced after several police officers got into their cars and drove away.

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I recall a television interview with Columbia University professor John McWhorter (it may have been on the Charlie Rose Show; I couldn’t find a reference to it online) in which he described being stopped by police in Oakland, Calif. McWhorter was walking across a street and jaywalked in front of a police car, an offense so trifling he was surprised when the officer stopped him. I can’t recall all of the details, but while McWhorter was upset by the experience, he came to understand it later.

He described the unwritten contract between the police and the community in places like Oakland, where one would think a petty affront to the commonweal like jaywalking should hardly warrant a police officer’s attention. But this unwritten contract, as McWhorter described it, places demands on both the police and the community. Under the contract, police officers ignore minor infractions like jaywalking, but they expect the community not to flout the law, even a minor one, in their presence. Thus when McWhorter jaywalked, the officer took it as a violation of the contract and a challenge, one that could not be ignored…

When the Ferguson officer drove onto the block and saw Michael Brown and his friend walking down the middle of the street, he expected them to move to the sidewalk as soon as they realized a police car was approaching. When they didn’t, the officer took it as a violation of the contract, even a challenge. Which in a way it was.

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[I]n the end, my own answer to a question like “how do you feel about cops?” depends heavily on what I fear the most, what I want or need to be protected from, and how serious the threat of disorder at a given moment seems. If the crime rate is sky-high, and the cops seem handcuffed and/or outnumbered and outgunned, then the answer is more likely to be: I feel like cops deserve more support, more money, and in most cases the benefit of the doubt. But if − as is currently the case − the crime rate has been falling for two decades, and we’ve entered an age defined by security theater, city-wide lockdowns and cops armed more heavily than National Guardsmen used to be, then my answer is likely to be different, more skeptical, less deferential to the men in blue. (Or, in this case, camouflage.) That isn’t because severe police abuses don’t exist in high-crime eras, or because aggressive policing tactics don’t help contribute to lower crime rates, or because we’ve entered some sort of crime-free utopia today in which every tough-on-crime policy can be safely abandoned. (We haven’t.) It’s because we have to live by generalizations, at least to some extent, and the generalizations about cops and police tactics implied by the landscape of, say, 1968 or 1977 or 1991 are necessarily different from the generalizations implied by the American landscape of today…

So am I more of a police skeptic, a civil libertarian now on these issues, and is my generation more libertarian, than the conservatives who supported tough-on-crime policies in the age of Nixon and Reagan and Bush I? Well, yes, but not necessarily in a way that necessarily speaks to a fundamental shift in first principles or underlying ideological beliefs. Rather, we’re responding to what we’ve lived through and seen happen, in the same way that an earlier generation did. Or to rewrite a famous quip about ideology and experience, if the experience of the ’60s and ’70s didn’t make you a little more pro-law-and-order, you might not have a brain; if the experience of the 2000s and 2010s haven’t made you a little more skeptical of expansive police powers − well, you might not have one either.

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[I]n the two decades since, violent crime has dropped and dropped. As a result, public attitudes have softened. The percentage of Americans who favor the death penalty for murderers, which hit 80 percent in 1994, fell to 60 percent last year. Even more importantly, crime has virtually disappeared as a political issue. In 1994, according to the University of Albany, 37 percent of Americans cited crime or violence as the “most important problem facing the country.” By 2012, it was 2 percent.

It’s not that many of the white conservatives who once voted Republican because of their fear of crime no longer harbor racialized fears about illegality and public disorder. They still do. But to a large degree, those fears have shifted from black crime to Latino immigration. And this shift has given Paul and other Republicans the space to challenge harsh police tactics and sentencing policies without incurring the wrath of their party base.

In intriguing ways, Rand Paul in 2014 is the mirror image of Bill Clinton in 1992. Clinton won white votes by confronting their stereotype of Democrats as soft on black crime. Paul is trying to win black and other minority votes by confronting their stereotype of Republicans as indifferent to white racism. By 1992, the rise of crime had made liberal Democrats so desperate that they were willing to accept Clinton’s embrace of policies that made them uncomfortable. Today, demographic change is making some conservative Republicans desperate enough to accept Paul’s embrace of policies that make them uncomfortable. If Republicans are smart, they will heed the shifting politics of crime and follow Paul’s lead.

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Ferguson was hardly a happy suburban garden spot until the shooting of Michael Brown. Ferguson is about two-thirds black, and 28 percent of those black residents live below the poverty line. The median income is well below the Missouri average, and Missouri is hardly the nation’s runaway leader in economic matters. More than 60 percent of the births in the city of St. Louis (and about 40 percent in St. Louis County) are out of wedlock…

The more progressive the city, the worse a place it is to be poor and/or black. The most pronounced economic inequality in the United States is not in some Republican redoubt in Texas but in San Francisco, an extraordinarily expensive city in which half of all black households make do with less than $25,000 a year. Blacks in San Francisco are arrested on drug felonies at ten times their share of the general population. At 6 percent of the population, they represent 40 percent of those arrested for homicides. Whether you believe that that is the result of a racially biased criminal-justice system or the result of higher crime incidence related to socioeconomic conditions within black communities (or some combination of those factors) what is undeniable is that results for black Americans are far worse in our most progressive, Democrat-dominated cities than they are elsewhere. The progressives have had the run of things for a generation in these cities, and the results are precisely what you see…

The Reverend Jackson should not be surprised that places such as Ferguson, Mo., have feckless police departments. He himself has spent his career helping to ensure that they have feckless schools, self-serving bureaucracies, rapacious public-sector unions pillaging the municipal fisc, and malevolent political leadership that is by no means above exploiting racial sentiment in order to hold on to power. His allies have been running U.S. cities for a generation, and it takes a considerable measure of brass for him to come in decrying the results as though he had no hand in them.

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Via Reason TV.

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Via Gateway Pundit.