11/25/2014 06:42 pm ET Updated Dec 01, 2014

What Ferguson Means: The View From Abroad


Violent protests that erupted after a grand jury's failure to indict a white police officer for shooting to death an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, are making world headlines, with editors and reporters reflecting on the state of American justice and race relations.

Spain’s El Pais reports that the grand jury decision “confirmed the town’s worst fears and unleashed a new wave of anger,” rendering Ferguson a “ghost town under police blockade.” The newspaper also profiles the activists who have gained prominence in Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown's death Aug. 9. “Most are led by young blacks and while many didn’t know the deceased, the case has united them, ” the newspaper writes. "This is not America’s or the black community’s problem. It is a global problem of people who feel oppressed,” Tory Russell tells the Spanish newspaper.

The BBC points out that the death of Michael Brown and the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson do not stand in isolation, but were preceded by the acquittal of George Zimmerman for shooting to death Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The network warns that while the grand jury’s call already triggered widespread clashes in Ferguson, it could also “inflame racial tensions elsewhere across the country.”

Also in the U.K., The Guardian notes the dilemma faced by U.S. President Barack Obama as he urged protesters to remain calm after the verdict. “Obama’s early, and at times emotional, intervention in the national debate that followed the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 was blamed by many critics for inflaming racial tensions, and the White House had strained to avoid similar intervention in Ferguson,” the newspaper writes. “But he has also struggled to make clear that his sympathy also lies with many demonstrators in the city who feel that the police are not always on their side.”

“Officers in Ferguson are also not alone in shooting unarmed black men,” the Economist writes, looking at similar cases across the U.S. “Systemic racism is still a problem, and so-called ‘justifiable homicides” are on the rise,’ the magazine reports.

In Canada, The Globe and Mail parses the legal aspects of the grand jury decision. Criminal lawyer David Butt argues that “legal conclusions flow from microscopic dissection of very tiny slices of life: In this case, a few brief minutes of interaction between a police officer and a young man. Larger questions around the prevalence and role of racism in policing, racism in Ferguson, and racism in the United States, were not part of the jury’s work. But we can understand things quite differently if we trade the legal microscope for the social telescope, lift our eyes up from the courtroom, and scan the horizon and skies.”

Echoing comments by Konstantin Dolgov, the human rights envoy for Russia’s foreign ministry , that events in Ferguson reflect simmering U.S. tensions over racial discrimination, Russia Today on Tuesday ran an interview with Josh Pasek, an associate professor from the University of Michigan, headlined, “Racial animosity in U.S. not over.” Pasek says: “A lot of what we are seeing here is that in the environment where we now are, having a black president of the U.S., a lot of people had this sense that big stark divide that the racial animosity in America was over. And that is not the case.”

Sebastian Fischer argues in an opinion piece in Germany’s Der Spiegel that Obama’s speech in the wake of the grand jury announcement fell short. “It was a weak, tired appearance," Fischer writes. “This is not enough.” Fischer urges Obama to travel to Ferguson and give the speech of his lifetime, a speech that will direct all the outrage, anger and sadness towards fighting racism in America.

Writing for Le Monde in France, Gilles Paris describes the protests and clashes in Ferguson as evidence of a racial fracture in a town in full demographic transition. While pointing at the “disproportionate and ineffective” deployment of Ferguson’s police forces during the protests and “unimpressive measures” by the town’s authorities, Paris argues that Ferguson’s racial divide “could only widen” with the decision of the grand jury.

Also in France, Le Figaro sees the protests as the continuation of 50 years of racial riots in the U.S. sparked by altercations between police officers and members of the black community. “Since the end of segregation, the same scenario has repeated itself at steady intervals.”

In the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Allison Kaplan Sommer reflects on two arguments frequently made in the region in recent days: The excessive force with which U.S. police reacted against protesters in Ferguson is similar to how Israeli security forces address Palestinian protests. Some even blamed the U.S. influence on U.S. law enforcement for the heavy tactics in Missouri. Sommer argues that while most of these arguments lack a foundation, she does see one large similarity: “As absurd as I find this tear gas-driven solidarity, I do see one major similarity between the Israel-Hamas conflict and Ferguson, as I watch the talking heads on the U.S. media and their counterparts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem endlessly try to work out how to solve their respective problems during this long, hot summer: dangerously short-term thinking.”

“In Ferguson -- as in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank -- crises must be used as an opportunity for out-of-the-box solutions that could prevent the next explosion.” Sommer writes. “It’s not just the right time to solve big problems -- it is the only time.”

More On Ferguson From HuffPost:

Photographic Evidence Reveals | 'First Year Law Student Could Have Done Better Job' | 61 Arrested | Ferguson Smolders After Night Of Fires | Protest Locations | Americans Deeply Divided | Police Chief: 'Worse Than The Worst Night We Had In August' | What You Can Do | Darren Wilson Interview | Darren Wilson Could Still Face Consequences | Timeline | Students Protest | Photos Of Darren Wilson's Injuries Released | Shooting Witness Admitted Racism In Journal | Peaceful Responses Show The U.S. At Its Best | Reactions To Ferguson Decision | Prosecutor Gives Bizarre Press Conference | Notable Black Figures React | Jury Witness: 'By The Time I Saw His Hands In The Air, He Got Shot' | Thousands Protest Nationwide |

11/30/2014 3:28 PM EST

Wilson Resigned Over Safety Concerns, Lawyer Says

Reuters reports:

he white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, resigned from the force without any severance deal, the mayor of the St. Louis suburb said on Sunday.

The officer, Darren Wilson, announced his resignation late Saturday, saying he feared for his own safety and that of his fellow police officers after a grand jury decided not to indict him in the fatal Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Read more here.

11/30/2014 7:27 AM EST

10 People Arrested During Portland's Ferguson Protest

PORTLAND, Ore (AP) — Authorities say 10 people have been arrested in Portland during a protest related to the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting.

The city police bureau says the arrests came Saturday night "after a large group of protesters laid down in the street and refused lawful orders to clear the roadway."

Earlier, the gathering over the Missouri shooting death of a black man by a white police officer included a speech by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Oregonian reports that Jackson urged nonviolence and said the resignation of the officer was "a step in the right direction," but that much remained to be done to achieve justice for the victim.

Police say that after Jackson left, some protesters marched around downtown and sporadically disrupted traffic.

Officials say some bottles were thrown at officers and a police car was damaged.

The nine adults and one juvenile arrested will face charges that include disorderly conduct.

11/29/2014 10:15 PM EST

Flag Burning

11/29/2014 10:01 PM EST

Large Police Presence

11/29/2014 9:42 PM EST

Saturday Night Protest In Ferguson

11/29/2014 9:26 PM EST

Armed 'Oath Keepers' Plan To Protest

The NYT reports that armed members of the group "Oath Keepers" are in Ferguson to offer their help protecting businesses from damage.

From the NYT:

The volunteers, who are sometimes described as a citizen militia — but do not describe themselves that way — have taken up armed positions on rooftops here on recent nights....

But on Saturday, with the county police said to be threatening the Oath Keepers with arrest, the volunteers decided to abandon their posts and instead protest against the authorities. Late in the day on Saturday, a protest was being planned for that night.

Read more here.

11/29/2014 6:56 PM EST

Darren Wilson Resigns From Ferguson Police Department

Darren Wilson has resigned from Ferguson police department.

Read his resignation letter below, via St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process."

11/27/2014 12:55 PM EST

Murals In Ferguson

11/27/2014 11:28 AM EST

Ferguson Protests Hit Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Unrest following the Ferguson grand jury's decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson has hit the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Using #StopTheParade as a rallying cry, protesters attempted to disrupt the annual parade in New York City. According to Mashable, police arrested some of the demonstrators just as the parade kicked off.

--Mollie Reilly

11/27/2014 11:19 AM EST

Ferguson Library Stays Open Throughout The Protests

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki reports on Ferguson's public library, which has remained open throughout the protests.

Over 50 volunteers helped staff the library, which provided free lunches to children as schools remained closed. The library also offered help to businesses who suffered damage during the protests following the grand jury's decision.

"We have a dramatic setting right now but it is not different than what libraries do every day," library director Scott Bonner said.

Watch the segment here.

--Mollie Reilly