The spike in racial violence in the United States stemming from the November 24 verdict in the small city of Ferguson extended to 170 cities around the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia. It relented a bit over Thanksgiving weekend, a family festival in North America, but it’s far from over.
Indeed, what appeared to be an isolated incident in a remote place has fueled intense anger within the African American community, which still suffers from poverty, segregation and growing pressure from police, factors that created a breeding ground for the serious acts of violence the National Guard is currently trying to contain.
The political persecution of blacks only grows with the impunity of whites, as Officer Darren Wilson will now walk free and not be charged, after a court concluded there was not enough evidence to indict him. Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer, killed Brown with multiple gun shots on Aug. 9 as the black 18-year-old walked unarmed.
The protests highlight not only a pattern of police violence against people of color but a justice system that grants impunity. Judges are discretionary in their sentencing: Harsher on blacks than on whites who have committed the same crime. In fact, statistics from the Department of Justice show that one in three African Americans was in jail at some point in their life.
The demographic changes in suburban areas of the U.S. deepen racial inequalities and generate hate among those segregated, sinking them into poverty and depriving them of security, education and health care. The racial tensions in Ferguson are rooted in a growing poverty index, one with an unemployment rate of 13 percent, twice the national average, which affects 14,000 of the 20,000 African Americans there. According to the 2012 census, one in four residents was living below the poverty line of $23,850 per year for a family of four, with 44 percent of them actually forced to survive on half that. With numbers like these, any little spark could ignite an explosion of social tensions.
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