The Facts Surrounding Ferguson
I have read tons of comments from a lot of people condemning the black community of Ferguson, Missouri for their protest over the murder of the unarmed black teenaged Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Despite the suspicious circumstances that led to Michael Brown’s murder, Darren Wilson was protected by the Ferguson police department and was allegedly given paid administrative leave. It is hard work for cops to kill black people and walk away scot free knowing all the local governments got your back. Mr. Wilson needs that time off to get over the exertion of pointing a gun and pulling a trigger on somebody who has the audacity to step out of line while obviously wearing black skin.
But nevertheless, people are entitled to their opinion. A lot of black people in the area of Ferguson believe an unarmed teenaged black male was murdered in cold blood by a police officer. A lot of other people with “traditional” values believe that the shooting of an unarmed black teenaged male was justifiable homicide in the culmination of a series of unfortunate events that started with jay walking.
The police responded with an escalation of hostility by arming up in military fashion. Pictures show officers in military garb and gear, armed to the teeth to take on the worst terrorist imaginable. At the first sign of an unruly protestor or a few unruly people in the protesting crowd, the police stood ready to respond with overwhelming force against any and every protestor in the vicinity along with any news reporter or innocent bystander that just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, people are entitled to think whatever. Some people will think that the police acted with total disregard for the community and with unbelievable racial insensitivity. Some people will say that the police response was appropriate.
Like most stories, there are two sides. But instead of all of us stepping back and looking at facts, too many of us are trying to spin the story to fit what we want to believe. The fact is that a white police officer shot an unarmed black male. The officer initiated a confrontation with Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson because the two black teenagers were walking in the middle of the street. The officer was not responding to any police reports or police emergencies or any emergency for any public service. An altercation ensued. There was a physical fight in and/or near the police vehicle. Michael Brown started to run away. Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. In the crime scene photos taken by civilian cell phones shortly after the shooting, Michael Brown’s body laid in the street nowhere near a police vehicle. Witnesses on the scene say Michael Brown was facing the copy with his hands up when the police officer shot him multiple times. Those are facts that have a bearing on this case.
What is not a fact in this case is the testimony of friends who may have heard a version of events from Officer Wilson or a friend of anyone else who was not at the scene. What’s not a fact in this case are crime statistics and skewed data that may show that black people commit more crime per capita. What’s not a pertinent fact in this case is the protest that followed the shooting after Mr. Wilson was given a pass and was allowed to leave the scene without being arrested. What’s not pertinent is the surveillance video that showed a figure resembling Michael Brown leaving a convenience store after a hostile exchange with what may have been a store employee. According to facts, Michael Brown was not a suspect for anything that may have happened at any convenience store at the time he was stopped by Mr. Wilson. Within minutes after the shooting an ambulance was called to the scene to assess Michael Brown’s body. No ambulance was ever called to assess any injuries to Mr. Wilson.
Since Michael Brown’s shooting I have read a lot of comments that depict Michael Brown as a thug and a seasoned criminal without a single fact to support such characterization. Many of those comments include racially charged comments about the protestors who are predominantly black and racially charged comments about the black community. The black protestors have repeatedly chanted “no justice, no peace”. The message is simple. Until we have our government acting in a manner that is obviously fair and just there will be people willing to nonviolently break the peace.
In response, people on the other side have described black people as thugs and criminals who would rather live on welfare than find a job. There are so many comments from people who want black people to stop the looting and stealing and get jobs. Note that the comment isn’t for criminals to stop their criminal activity. People questioning the employment status of some of the protestors is nothing more than an attempt to use racially charged stereotypes to distract from the main issue of a police officer going free after the murder of a black teenager. Again, people’s employment status is not a fact that is pertinent. The only person whose employment is a factor is the employment of Officer Wilson.
Some of the comments I have read said that black people need to take more responsibility for what happens in Ferguson. And that’s pretty funny when you stop to think about it. Because when black people step forward to challenge the status quo that tolerates police officers killing black people, a lot of people want to point a damning finger at black people and tell them to shut up. If black people don’t like it they can go back to Africa. The fact is, the majority of black people that are protesting in Ferguson are not from Africa. They are, in fact, from Ferguson.
But the fact of the matter is that black people in America have the right to protest. The fact of the matter is that police do not have the right to violate anybody’s rights without just cause. We shouldn’t assume that police who shoot black people are justified any more than we would assume that black people who shoot police are justified. Police are afraid of black people. Considering the fact that cops are often acquitted for shooting black people, I seriously doubt if that’s true. However, it is true that unarmed black people often die in a hail of bullets by police officers. The fact of the matter is that more black people die at the hands of police per capita than police die at the hands of black people. And if we want to change that fact, we need to stop giving police a pass whenever they kill a black person. The fact of the matter is that we need to hold them accountable.