The sun had gone down and the normal group of protestors gathered in front of the State House that was guarded by a lone British Sentry. The people of Boston had taken to harassing the guards as they passed, but on this night, an angry mob gathered and they abandoned their typical name calling. They threw rotten vegetables, snowballs mixed with gravel, rocks, or whatever was lying at their feet. They yelled insults, screamed, and made as much noise as possible.
Each day the British soldiers policing the streets of Boston took the abuse thrown at them. Some were seasoned veterans. They had seen the world and were accustomed to fighting in the faraway lands ruled by England. And some were freshies. This was their first time away from home. They thought they would be fighting the enemies of the Crown, not citizens of their home country.
On March 5, 1770, after two years of British occupation, things took a violent turn. Maybe it was the cold. Maybe the residents of Boston had just had enough…years of being told no….years of enduring high taxes…years of being told you are a citizen of England, but your voice doesn’t count.
The young sentry asked for backup. And as the violent crowd grew, so did the force of British Troops surrounding the State House. Then a sound was heard above the insults. Was it a window breaking? Was it the clank of a snowball on metal? No one knows, but the sound was enough to make the young sentry panic.
He fired a shot into the crowd.
The troops followed suit.
Five men were gunned down, including Crispus Attucks, an African American freedman.
Was last night was more of the same?
The people of Ferguson marched to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble. They are tired of being told no. They are tired of always being suspect. They are tired of being told you are a citizen of the United States, but your voice doesn’t count.
Then the police gathered. A few rabble-rousers threw things at the officers. One officer got scared. He isn’t from this part of Missouri. He is from a small town and isn’t used to this kind of policing. He raises his gun. He threatens to kill.
It could have ended with more dead. His shot could have triggered more shots. Luckily, his fellow officers and members of the community surrounded him and told him to put the assault rifle down.
I sit here watching through the lens of CNN International. I am following the #Ferguson Twitter feed. I know my view is clouded by the bias of the press and the public who want to sensationalize this situation.
But I wonder, if things don’t calm down, who is next?
Will more have to die for the right to the freedoms for which our Founding Fathers fought so brutally?