Cathy Schneider has been all over of late, giving insightful commentary on the events in Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal shooting by police of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Schneider's book, Police Power and Race Riots, speaks directly to the confluence of events and entrenched attitudes that lead to the sorts of racially charged confrontations between minority populations and oppressive authority regimes that we have seen in Missouri. As such, she has been much sought after by media outlets wanting to understand better what is happening in the center of the country. Here is a collection of her most recent:
CCTV America: "What will bring calm to the streets of Ferguson?
Yahoo News (via the Associated Press—the story was picked up by 25-plus outlets nationwide): "Many Communities Still Mistrust Police"
Brown's death is the latest illustration of deep divisions between minorities and police that have simmered for generations. Concern about the events playing out in Ferguson has coursed all the way up to the White House. President Barack Obama said Attorney General Eric Holder would go to Missouri this week to check on the independent federal investigation into Brown's death.
"In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement," the president said.
The New York Times: "Cities Rocked by Past Protests Offer Lessons in What, and What Not, to Do"
Cathy Lisa Schneider, a professor at American University and the author of “Police Power and Race Riots: Urban Unrest in Paris and New York,” said that many riots burn themselves out as anger and frustration are vented.
But “police forces can keep it going, and I think that’s what you’re seeing in Ferguson,” she said. “They’re constantly reinvigorating it by creating a new grievance for people to organize around or explode about.”
She also noted that in Ferguson, there seemed to be an absence of community-based groups that could act as interlocutors, negotiating with the police. In New York and Washington, such intervention has at times prevented rioting in tense situations involving race.
“I’m not sure who you could talk to in Ferguson because we haven’t heard their voices at all,” Ms. Schneider said. “Who is representing the community?”
The Washington Post (via the AP again, with similar national distribution): "Many police killings, but only Ferguson explodes"
There was little violence after the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer last July. Peace prevailed when at least four other unarmed black males were killed by police in recent months, from New York to Los Angeles.
Then Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri. And waves of rioting have convulsed the St. Louis suburb for more than 10 days.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "How will Ferguson grievances be resolved?"
“I think that the police department and the local officials did everything wrong in the Ferguson case,” she said. “Once it exploded, it became representative of issues of concern to minorities in many parts of the country.”
Schneider said reforms likely will be needed within police departments. Ultimately, she said, “the police have to establish a different relationship with the community.”