Get out and vote, Ferguson residents

There appears to be a fairly straightforward political solution to the problems that have beset Ferguson, Mo., the suburban community being swallowed up by unrest and violence in the wake of the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer.

The town is roiling with turbulence. Cops are under fire for their gross overreaction to residents’ protests; Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has called out the National Guard; U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is going there to assess whether federal involvement is needed; President Obama is calling for calm; the town is swarming with broadcast and print media representatives, not to mention an assortment of civil-rights activists.

The solution? It’s at the ballot box.

National Public Radio reported this morning a few interesting facts:

Ferguson is roughly 65 percent African-American; its mayor is white; its city council is mostly white; its police force has three African-American officers. Here’s the kicker: The 2013 municipal election produced a 12 percent turnout among African-American voters.

The solution? The city needs to elect qualified African-American residents to positions of power on the city council, who then need to perhaps reshape the city’s law enforcement infrastructure to reflect more accurately the city’s population.

Imagine, then, what might happen to a troubled community if the city’s police force and governing council reflected the backgrounds of the residents whose interests they represent.

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