As my dear wife notes, my family was at the Mall of America when last weekend's protest of the exonerations of two police officers took place. Now, without going into my view of the motivations of the protesters, it strikes me that this is a great way of seeing what happens when those involved have a sense of ownership.
As I noted before, one of the tragedies in Missouri is that the protesters did not seem to have a sense of ownership in their community, and this weekend's events indicate to me that I didn't go far enough in my argument. Another part of the tragedy is that the Ferguson police do not seem to have a sense of ownership in their community.
I missed that part, and the Bloomington Police and the MOA organization made that very clear. As soon as the protesters coalesced into a "flash mob" and started the protest, hundreds of police officers surrounded them as mall security (the hotel where we were had at least five or ten men at the door where we were, rocking the "Secret Service" ear bud and suitcoat look) lowered security gates to most stores and stood watch.
Since the MOA is a large portion of the tax base for the city, there was ownership, and it showed. Reports have it that the 25 or so people arrested are going to be prosecuted fully, and this is appropriate. The MOA didn't do anything to these people--they're not refusing to serve them at lunch counters or anything like that--and the protest probably cost the MOA and the city north of a million dollars.
Hopefully the lesson is learned; you protest those who have actually hurt you, not innocent bystanders.
Update: a commenter on my earlier post on this subject suggested that most of those arrested/making trouble were not from the area. The Washington Post actually tested this, and 80% of those arrested are from Missouri, most from the St. Louis metro. Now this doesn't mean that outsiders didn't have a significant impact, but it does mean that there is a significant population there that does treat their home as if it were not their own.
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