Late last night my Twitter feed lit up with reports of looting in Ferguson, Missouri. This was immediately followed by reports of citizens stepping up to protect businesses against looters. It was discouraging and encouraging at the same time. Obviously, looting is the most counterproductive behavior possible, as it sways public opinion against the protesters and tends to justify heavy-handed police tactics. Yet, it was nice to see people rally to stop the looting. The one thing I feel strongly about is that the Ferguson police department is more interested in covering their backsides than with maintaining law and order in their community. Their decision to release video of Michael Brown stealing from a convenience store just incited people who saw it as a distraction and a deliberate slur used to try to justify an execution.

The police department needs to calm things down and start to build some trust, but everything they (and the country police) have been doing seems pointed in the exact opposite direction.

It’s as if looting serves their purposes.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at