Could Ferguson Happen In Jackson?

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri—white police officer shoots black man, grand jury doesn’t indict, blacks riot in downtown—have me wondering whether those events could ever occur in Jackson, Mississippi. As I always strive to offer a balanced perspective (which distinguishes me from national news media pundits), I’ll provide both yes and no answers with a full explanation.

YES?

(a) Never underestimate the damage that rogue cops and professional troublemakers like Al Sharpton can do; and,

(b) There are idiots everywhere.

However, I don’t think that scenario likely here in the Deep South, much less in Jackson.

NO.

(a) Such things never happen in Deep Dixie. The Northeast, Midwest, East and West coasts, certainly; always have and always will. But even though white cops have also recently shot black men in Alabama and Memphis, those riots never occurred. The reason is that people just get along down here, no matter their race or politics. Jackson has good enough leadership to prevent such occurrences on the police force and in its downtown streets;

(b) However, that leadership is insufficient to keep businesses alive and flourishing in downtown Jackson, so riots would be superfluous in a downtown where there are so few businesses left to rampage;

(c) The police in Jackson are mostly black, and they are no harder on white law breakers than they are on those of any other racial group. Thus far, although a few of them have accidently shot each other and allowed their partners to be shot by criminals, not one of them has ever gunned down an innocent white man so far as we know. And if they ever did, would whites riot in the streets? In a word, no; and,

(d) The good people of Jackson simply get along very well regardless of race, and their leaders (not one of whom is half the jackass Sharpton is) are too decent to promote such mindless violence in the streets. We work well together, play well together, and if we’re Catholic, even attend church together. And why not? If you’ve ever been to Underground 119 and enjoyed partying with their racially diverse crowd, attended lunch at the Art Museum with that same diverse crowd, or done just about anything in the city of Jackson in the past twenty years, you’ve seen what I’m talking about first hand.

May it always be so, and may we in Mississippi continue to show the rest of the nation (and not only through SEC football, although that was truly awesome from September through the Egg Bowl) how to live, work, play and even endure tragedy together.

 

Jim Fraiser

Jim Fraiser

Jim Fraiser is a Jackson judge and the author of 16 books about the history, culture and architecture of the Deep South, including his recently published novel, "In An Enemy’s Country", set in Jackson, New Orleans and Paris.
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