By Robert A. Vella
The population of Ferguson, Missouri is over two-thirds Black. In the 2010 census, Whites comprised less than 30% of the town’s residents. So, it would be logical to assume the city government would reflect those racial demographics.
But, that assumption would be completely wrong. The mayor of Ferguson is white, five of the six city council members are white, 50 of its 53 police officers are white, and the local school board is 100% white.
How can this be? Are the white candidates for public office dramatically more appealing to black voters? Are there no black candidates? Are the elections in Ferguson rigged?
No, no, and no. The White minority in Ferguson rules because of only one thing… Blacks do not vote.
From the Huffington Post – Missouri GOP Director Denounces Voter Registration Efforts In Ferguson:
One reason the city’s government poorly reflects the demographic makeup could be low voter turnout. Only 12.3 percent of people voted in this year’s municipal elections. Turnout was even lower in 2013 and 2012, with 11.7 percent and 8.9 percent voting, respectively. On Sunday, Sharpton decried the dismal turnout in an address at a local church.
“You all have got to start voting and showing up. Twelve percent turnout is an insult to your children,” he said.
Local resident Debra Reed, who set up a voter registration tent near the memorial, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they are “trying to make young people understand that this is how to change things.”
Michael Brown was killed by a white officer – Darren Wilson – who might not even have had a job in the police department if Blacks were proportionally represented in government. Think about that the next time you decide not to vote. Whose blood will stain the hands of apathy and inaction?
Without citizen participation, democracy dies. Without democracy, the injustice of authoritarianism rules.