Ashamed Of Ferguson Riots, Tyron Woodley Tells Protestors To Look In The Mirror

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As most of the United States is eating Thanksgiving leftovers and Christmas shopping for their families, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, continues to battle widespread violence, fires, and looting following the highly controversial acquittal of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Before squaring off with Kelvin Gastelum in the pivotal co-main event of January’s UFC 183, No. 3-ranked UFC welterweight Tyron Woodley has a close connection to the unfortunate circumstances in Ferguson.

“The Chosen One” hails from the embattled Midwest city, and the violence incited by the riots has affected the town that he loves. He appeared in a chilling interview with USA TODAY to discuss the riots that have torn Ferguson apart:

Woodley expressed his anger at all of the mindless violence going on, noting that when he was young, he never tried to stirred up trouble just to have fun. At the heart of the matter, Woodley believes those that are rioting are greatly subtracting from those who are protesting in a peaceful manner:

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“This is my city. This is specifically my city, and I’m outraged. I live right down the street. We didn’t have the idea that we had to get into trouble to have fun. I hate seeing it, I hate watching it. More importantly, I hate people that don’t understand the environment – how small Ferguson is, how it’s really a sense of community and, you know, it’s a good place.

We shouldn’t have been looting and rioting, tearing up our own city. I’m ashamed of the people that are looting and rioting and busting holes and burning down buildings. They make it look bad for the people that are peacefully protesting.”

Woodley walked down the streets from his upbringing, saddened to see his old stomping grounds burned. He put things in perspective by noticing a family business that had been set ablaze, which mindlessly ripped a family business from their community-focused owners:

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“This is terrible. This is embarrassing. You can smell it, like it just burned,” he said.

“I knew the owners of this place. They’re good people. Good community people.”

The carnage has Woodley thinking hard about a solution to the unfortunate problem. He evoked the words of Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., believing that the people in Ferguson should take a much different approach to stand up for Brown’s death:

“I’m not an emotional guy. I hardly cry at funerals. But I had to go in my closet for a second, and start praying for what have we come to as a society. Martin Luther King said ‘Let’s not make noise, let’s make a difference.’

So what’s our next step? I don’t have a clear vision, but I believe I have a first step. And I think that’s what we need; a first step. No one’s mentioned a first step, and I think that first step is self-actualization. I think we need to look in the mirror.

For me, to have something hit so close to home, I’m to the point, where I’m like, literally I have to do something.”

As a prominent athlete and a Ferguson native, Woodley has more ability than most to spur change in Missouri. But the city’s problems are obviously deep rooted and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

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Ferguson will most likely continue to be ravaged, forcing the overarching issues to remain underneath the media blitz of pointless violence. That’s why Woodley stresses the importance of working towards change rather than breaking the law in the heat of the moment.

Burning down a city isn’t going to change anything, and like Woodley says, it’s becoming an embarrassing excuse for the more violent protesters. Like him or not as a fighter, Woodley has some harrowing and poignant views about Ferguson’s situation.

Will those who actually have valid points ever be heard, or will they be drowned out by the actions of their violent peers?

Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski for USA TODAY Sports