Really, you can’t blame the police in Ferguson. Their backs are against the wall. They are charged, not with maintaining order, but with protecting the property of the capitalists and the landed gentry. They really only have three paths: 1) protect every property so that no one dares damage it, 2) wait until property is damaged then capture, punish, and use as an example the perpetrators, or 3) prevent the damage before it takes place.
In the first approach, there are not enough police in any jurisdiction to protect every property. So that option is out. The second approach, the one we would expect today’s law enforcement to take, usually doesn’t work; the perps hide their identity under cover of darkness or masks, or surveillance is insufficient, or all the evidence left behind is burned away. That leaves the third method as the only choice. Now if one were a wise and compassionate human, one might imagine that there are nonviolent methods to prevent a crowd from getting angry enough to want to destroy something that doesn’t belong to them. Attending to their demands is one. Building relationships with community leaders before the need arises is another. Not doing cruel things is still another. Finding ways for the crowd to burn off its anger without violence is yet another. But when all of these alternatives are unpalatable, or undesirable, or not profitable for the weapons manufacturers, we are left with proactively busting up the crowd before it can gain a sense of its own power. That means using tear gas, rubber bullets (doublespeak: rubber-coated steel bullets can and do still kill), dogs, kettling to facilitate detention, and any number of tactics to cause the crowd to become fearful and to return home, leaving the property in peace.
This all works for the establishment, as long as the people remain ignorant of their power. Watch this example of how a crowd reacts to needless brutality against an unarmed, unthreatening human being. Can we take a lesson from this?