The city of Ferguson, Mo., is now burned into our consciousness in a way that few other places are.

In my youth, the race riots in Newark, Detroit and Los Angeles marked turning points in my own and in the public’s awareness of the problems of a black underclass that perceives itself as being so unfairly governed by a white power structure that it resorted to violence.

Those disturbances also revealed the difficulties of hardworking black families trying to make decent lives for themselves by endeavoring to leave the inner cities and, as basketball player-turned-philosopher Charles Barkley stated, the opportunities of inner city “scumbags” willing to steal and pillage and incite for some temporary material or political gain.

We saw this again in Los Angeles during the Rodney King affair, in which a jury in a state prosecution acquitted two white cops of savagely beating an unarmed black man, and the mobs rioted. Thereafter, the same cops were charged with federal crimes based on the same facts and were convicted by a federal court.

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