The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has reignited the fires of racial acrimony in America. His death remains a tragedy of unimaginable proportions to his family and friends. We cannot relieve the pain of these deaths, but reflecting upon it may help us improve our community.

After the shooting of the unarmed teenager, crowds exploded at a nearly all-white police force armed to defend against a terrorist attack of apocalyptic proportions. The massive police response focused the outrage over the death. The disproportionate response could have been anticipated since most of the officers do not live in Ferguson and appear to have little knowledge of the community. 

That the intemperate police response was too much was shown when state trooper Capt. Ronald Johnson walked alone through the crowd to calm the community. Sadly, his efforts were undermined by the Ferguson police chief’s release of a grainy convenience store video purporting to show a theft by the victim. The result has been the calling out of the National Guard and martial law.

Can Galveston learn from this tragedy? The overarching lesson is that cultural divisions are alive and well in our country, schools and towns. The public schools have long been integrated, but the private and charter schools remain sharply divided. De facto segregation of towns compounds this. Some people would rather live next to a toxic waste dump than public housing. Until we acknowledge these divisions, they cannot be reconciled.

Our local government must work against these forces that divide us. Members with diverse cultural backgrounds must be included on the senior staff of the administration and its departments. Leadership sets the tone of inclusiveness or division. We have seen the civil and police leadership of Ferguson utterly fail to govern. Galvestonians require thoughtful policies that avoid provocative confrontations.  

We must revisit our governmental policies. Inducing shock and awe may be appropriate in warfare, but it has no place in our community. Galveston has a history of overreacting to events. The policies that justify actions such as The San Luis wedding riot, confrontational clearings of The Strand after Mardi Gras and high-speed police chases need review. A first step is narrowing the extent of public events to manageable proportions.

The city of Galveston spreads police authority among the Police Department, Beach Patrol and Code Enforcement Office. These agencies must cooperate. For some visitors, our incomprehensible parking policies need to be explained in clear language rather than merely furtively handing out tickets. This is a natural task for the Beach Patrol. They are often the first face of the city that visitors see. Let them welcome and instruct our visitors.

Incoherent housing policies complicate the work of the police, which will worsen as scattered public housing becomes a reality. One approach would be for the police and city planning departments to work together on code enforcement. Community policing readily identifies housing that is being misused. Code enforcement can be deployed to require owners to bring the housing up to code. This means enforcing bans on housing inappropriate to residential neighborhoods.

We can learn by meditating on the death of the young man in Ferguson. We can succeed by improving the relationship between our city government and the community it is elected by and appointed to serve.

Dan Freeman is an occasional columnist for The Daily News.

(26) comments

Jarvis Buckley

Couple years ago a black police officer (off duty) shot an killed an unarmed white ex marine
Setting in his truck. Happened in orange Texas no national news coverage ,no riots ,no indictment .

PD Hyatt

Wow.... I see that the GDN does not check on who is going to write their guest piece for them nor do they check to see if they have found out the real facts, or are they going to spew forth their biased lies.... 6'4" 300 lb 18 year old is not what I would call a kid. He was also caught on camera pushing a person around in a store where he was stealing a box of cigars. That is a full grown man. MB broke the police officers eye socket while he was attacking the officer in HIS car while he was trying to get the officers gun before it went off.... There are 12 witnesses that have given testimoney compared to the 3 who are lying and they say that the officers testimoney is correct and that MB was changing back to the car when the officer got out and started shooting....
It would seem as if our President, his thug AG Holder and their left wing media is all set to start a race war and that is really pathetic on their part....Because there is much evidence from their own words over the last 6 years that indicate that all parties involved are really wanting to move this to that point....
Why is it when a black officer kills a whilte person that we wait until the facts come out and then do not pillage, steal, riot and then burn down our neighborhoods.... When a white officer kills a black person who was attacking this officer, with out waiting for evidence they decide to rampage, burn down and loot the area and continue to do this night after night for over a week.... Then we have our AG come down and spew forth his garbage saying that we don't have enough diversity in the police ranks.... I will be the first to admit that there are times when I have seen police act heavy handed, but when you are attacking the police and beat them and then charge them what do you want them to do? Sit there and take it?
Again, what

Audrey Ayers

Very well spoken!

Evelyn Clark

I wonder why the police office never said anything about his eye until 8-10 after MB was killed.. Deadly force was not needed at any time. [sad]

Evelyn Clark

TO Javo, a couple minuites ago a BLACK /BROWN has been shot, hit, beaten and he was the wrong person. What is your scope on this?

He has an appeal against the police officer for arresting and beating the wrong man . The only thing they could bring up was he was bleeding on their uniform..
Just saying it is GOOD and BAD people in all RACES.

Brian Cann

I have a different view on what can be learned from Ferguson. Don't steal. Don't beat up cops. If those two things would have been done by saint Michael the gentle giant, he would still be alive today.

Evelyn Clark

That not true. This is a sad thing, but it is not new to the parents who has lost their children. It is strange that it is always the blacks that is wrong. Why is it that the PRISONS SYSTEM has WHITE/ BLACK/and BROWN population.

Brian Cann


Evelyn Clark

Yes the prison is full of White/ BLACK / BROWN. POPULATION PRISONS.
My church goes twice a month., try it .

George Croix

Cultural divisions?
An odd assessment of the rioting, anarchy, and looting after almost every such incident...
Where are the 'cultural divisions' in Chicago and New York where more are killed every weekend than in the entire history of a little hole in the wall like Ferguson, MO.

Looks to me like the 'discussions' need to be had with the thugs and thieves.

Steve Fouga

Glad for the acknowledgement that public housing will complicate police work on the Island.

Raymond Lewis

Excellent Mr. Freeman!


Last I checked an active investigation is still ongoing, unless Mr. Freeman knows more than everyone else knows. This article sounds like a rush to judgment to me and it stinks to high heaven!
Where is the toxicology report? Is it now known if there were hard drugs in the system of Mr. Brown which would have provoked him to attack an officer, in such a rage that it would've required more than one shot to bring him down? I heard one lady asked why the officer did not shoot to wound Mr. Brown. "He did not have to kill him!"
Police officers are trained from day one to NOT shoot to wound! They are trained NOT to shoot to warn, and THEY are trained NOT to shoot to kill! They are trained to shoot CENTER MASS, to STOP an individual from performing an act that individual should not have been doing which provoked deadly force being used by that officer in the first place.
There is a lot of HYPERBOLE coming across from the media concerning this case, it should mean nothing! What should mean something is the facts, hard evidence, and truth, in their entirety being established and evaluated by authorities who are lawfully authorized to do so. Then if warranted, a court of law should determine the innocent of guilt of anyone held over for trial to answer for an act or actions deemed as criminal by due process of law only,....and not by medial hyperbole!
Mr. Brown's family have a right to the truth, and the facts of why their son is now laying in the morgue, but Officer Wilson has just as much right to have access to due process of our legal system as Mr. Brown's family! Wilson has a family too! Years ago, when I volunteered to pick that M16 up.... ( I said I volunteered, nobody dragged me away from Galveston Country).... and go take a stand for freedom, THIS.... WHAT I HAVE LISTED ABOVE IS WHAT I HAD IN MIND, AND NOTHING ELSE! Equal access swings more than one way! Let the rule of law continue,..........and let justice be served, and not racial hate, fears nor media hyperbole


Somebody need to say Amen!

Jarvis Buckley

Obama And Holder have set race relations back 50 years. Bring on public housing. Sullivan's will
Laugh all the way to the bank. The Taxpaying hardworking residents will pay. Some with their life.....

Steve Fouga

I'll say AMEN, Jbg.

George Croix

Maybe the Officer broke his own eye socket as a cover up....[whistling]

Picture Eric Holder or Barack Obama being punched by a 6'-4", 290 pound guy, and take a guess how many holes THAT guy would have in him before he hit the ground.

As a last resort, after all else has failed, why not wait until all the evidence is in before we hang the officer.
If the Governor of MO and the United States AG would be so kind as to do so....

Jarvis Buckley

Wonder why Holder couldn't take a little time to represent our Marine in Mexico?

Lars Faltskog

Interesting how folks don't remember the many officers who have unjustly killed young black men in our area. Remember the time when a group of Houston HPD tackled a young black man and took turns beating him around that fenced area at a parking lot? Then, there was the young black man athlete who was going back to HIS home in Bellaire and he got shot for no reason by an officer.

What is not realized is that the mostly minority St Louis suburb has been for decades at odds with many years of oppressive police behaviors. No matter how we lament about how "thuggy" Chicago is, we can't hide from the fact that there's a lot of work to still do in race relations. And, I can see many of these posters don't want to meet the process halfway.

Chris Gimenez

"Interesting how folks don't remember the many officers who have unjustly killed young black men in our area. Remember the time when a group of Houston HPD tackled a young black man and took turns beating him around that fenced area at a parking lot? Then, there was the young black man athlete who was going back to HIS home in Bellaire and he got shot for no reason by an officer." (Servitude)

So you start off by stating "the many officers who have unjustly killed you black men in our area" and then ramble off two examples in which no one got killed. But that's your modus operandi-angry, factless diatribes that never support your ridiculous statements.

Lars Faltskog

So, bevoredisident -

Can I come with you when you go over to the parents' house of the young man in Bellaire and you tell them they should be happy that the police officer didn't KILL their son? Can I also go with you while you do the same in regard to the boy who got beat up by the group of officers?

I can't wait to see the expression on their parents' faces. Then again, I'd also like to go with you to Florida so you can go to Treyvon's mom/dad to defute my statement about "officers killing many black young people".

Jarvis Buckley

Like you do of course....

Lars Faltskog

Response to Jarvo posted at 9:52 am on Thu, Aug 21, 2014:

Yes, I do, of course. Re-read the posters who lament about how terrible society is. How young people in urban areas are "thugs" and that they "misbehave" toward the police.

It's as if these naysayers don't realize how tough it is to grow up in an environment where the police initially think of you as guilty. I notice in these threads folks having ill feelings about the way our country has been "changing"...and it's always the same lamentations: 1. Obama is "ruining" the nation's fiber, 2. we're an "entitlement" society, 3. women who willy nilly are "demanding" equal pay for equal work", 4. discounting the progress of social progression, i.e. mixed/biracial marriage, gay/lesbian marriage, and of course 5. "trashing" national health care.

It's a common thread for folks here to regularly take the notion that folks who aren't white men from affluent backgrounds are bellyaching and should simply get to work and stop griping.

Jarvis Buckley

I apologize for my quick negative response. I agree with you on most issues this beheading has just got me in a mean spirited attitude. However white or black or brown most of us had to work for a living. For me a lot of days 14 to. 16 hrs a day.

Leonce Thierry

There are major differences between Galveston, Texas and Ferguson, Missouri.

1) Galveston’s Police department is culturally diverse. And as a result, that degree of acculturation offers better human relationships.
2) Galveston’s police officers live in the community they serve.
3) Galveston’s police department commits itself to community-based policing. Ferguson Missouri does not have community-based policing as its method of interacting with the community.
4) The community has a strong relationship with its police department. GPD officers are present at just about any meeting you may attend.
5) Voter participation among ethnic minorities in Galveston is much higher than in Ferguson, where only six percent of its African American population voted in the last election.
6) Galveston elected officials appear far more acculturated than what appears to be the case in Ferguson. City council districts are composed of ethnically diverse constituents.
7) GISD is culturally diverse, which eliminates educational resources based upon de-facto segregated “us versus them.” Michael Brown recently graduated from one of the poorest high schools in Missouri where the student body was 100% African American.
8) Galveston’s population is culturally and ethnically diverse where people of all cultures, ethnicities, and household incomes live close to one another. There seem to be no other ethnicities in Ferguson other than Blacks and Whites.
9) Galveston’s economy is far more diverse that what appears to be the case in Ferguson. Economic and educational opportunities seem more available in Galveston that what appears to be the case in Ferguson.
10) There is an inherit trust that Galvestonians have with one another, regardless of race. Most Galvestonians are happy to be called Galvestonians, BOI, or IBC. This translates to a high degree of community spirit. This is especially true given Galveston’s rich history and citizens who come from mulch-generational families. This does not appear to be the case in Ferguson.

No one knows the exact details surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown. This leaves all of us to do nothing more than speculate. Truth and justice are determined in a court of law and not by broadcast media.

Steve Fouga

Wow! Very nice post, Mr. Thierry.

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