It seemed like a turning point.
Six years ago this month, law enforcement officers left the body of an 18-year-old Missourian shot and killed by a police officer lying on the street in the summer heat for more than four hours, and Americans living in the greater St. Louis area decided they’d had enough.
Black citizens, many ruled by bureaucracies originally crafted with the express purpose of excluding them, were tired of being harassed and mistreated by unaccountable armed government agents who locked them in cages to fill municipal coffers.
The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 was sparked by the police killing of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 and reignited the Black Lives Matter movement that began with the acquittal one year earlier of a self-styled neighborhood watchman who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012.
The protests and unconstitutional police response on the streets of a St. Louis suburb seized the nation’s attention and brought about some modest change in the St. Louis region and beyond.
The feds pulled back on distributing military gear to local police forces and forced the city of Ferguson to curb its profit-driven and discriminatory policing practices. The slow-moving local political process ― with the help of federal probes, expanded investigative reporting and activist-driven political pressure ― eventually ousted many of the government and law enforcement leaders who reigned over systems that enabled unconstitutional and abusive policing for decades.
Yet those reforms already pale in comparison to the swift changes the nation has witnessed since Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd on May 25. Since Floyd’s death ― which followed the killing of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes in Georgia and the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in Kentucky ― there have been sweeping...