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Law enforcement ignorant of communication methods in Ferguson, Missouri Part I

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In the August 22, 2014 issue of the Austin Chronicle, Jim Hightower writes in his column that there are lessons we can learn from the past and ongoing events in the estranged community of Ferguson, Missouri. To use his words, the way the local police department marshalled their forces, in an “infuriating” manner, against their own citizens. The gulf between African-American residents and in what is basically a European-America faction who support Officer Wilson who shot an unarmed Michael Brown six times. To add to the indignity of how Michael Brown was killed, as well as his age, ethnicity, and class, after Michael Brown was shot, authorities allowed his body to lay in the middle of the street for a number of hours; this to me is the height of disrespect. A similar happening occurred in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit the city. Many of the hard hit areas were areas where African-Americans and other persons of color lived. Sadly, first responders didn’t make it to many homes to identify bodies in any kind of timely fashion, in a respectable way, or failed even to come. Police, themselves, appeared to use this incident as a pass for vigilantism, and criminal actions against many persons-of-color in that city. Yes, we can learn from the experience of the Ferguson Police Department, primarily how not to quell violence, what has worked and what hasn’t worked, what methods of reconciliation & integration have been useful? Police officers dressed out in combat gear is seen as an occupying enemy. The irony in this is that practically all the personnel on the police force are white, in a town two-thirds African-Americans. So they are the local representatives of a white, male system that employs a military force; the police department is only one representative of Institutional Racism that continues to perpetuate the use of military equipment, armaments, and racism within the community. My undergrad work in the field of Communication Studies, and further graduate work in Counseling helped me to develop a good platform for practical communication. What factors does effective communication hold in its hand? Language, choice of language, grammatical tools, etymology, learning how to be a better listener, learning how to read environmental, social, emotional, intellectual, social contexts in which the communication unfolds, projection of biases, ignorance, perceptions of both encoder & decoder, peer influence, & genetic components. One component of communication that would greatly influence the way communication happens or goes down, of which the Ferguson Police apparently were unaware, is called Object Language. Object Language is comprised of aspects of verbal or visual communication, as well as non-verbal elements such as clothing, architecture, what kind of car someone drives, the music we prefer, and direct or indirect behaviors. If there are consistent patterns of these and other elements over time, we can infer certain ideas or messages are in the process of being communicated. (Part II of this blog will come next week)

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