This week has been difficult on multiple levels, but the issue that has driven me to write a blog post after a year of not blogging, is the continuously unfolding situation in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old young man has sparked protests around the nation. The facts are slow in coming and dubious at best, thus far. The police department of Ferguson seem to change their story daily, and sometimes several times a day. The witness accounts have remained steady ever since they started coming out over the course of the last week. There is a plethora of blog posts and news articles about this unfolding event, but I would like to add a few points of my own.
*Releasing the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown just hours before releasing the video footage of of the convenience store robbery where Brown was allegedly the perpetrator is nothing less than baiting and switching. After digging in their heels for a week, the police were forced to release the name, but the media latched onto the video footage and ran it constantly while the name of the police officer was buried beneath it. The intent might not have been to bury the name, but that is exactly what ended up happening. As a viewer it feels like the police as well as the media said, "Here's the name of the man who shot and killed an unarmed person, but why don't you focus instead on this theoretically incriminating footage instead? That way you'll associate the dead young man with crime and villainy and you'll be more ok with the fact that we shot him to death." This definitely worked as a good distraction away from the man who actually pulled the trigger.
*As a part of the above point, is the idea of victim-blaming. Because the man who was shot and killed was allegedly involved in a robbery just minutes before he was killed, and because the cops need a scapegoat, it's easiest to blame him for what happened. He "deserved" what he got because he was bad. If he hadn't been involved in the robbery, none of this would have happened. But the latest story the police are telling is that the officer who killed Brown was pulling him and his friend over for walking(while black) in the middle of the street and it wasn't until after he'd killed him that he apparently saw indications that he might have been the one involved in the robbery. This means that he was stopped by the officer for something completely unrelated, which makes that footage irrelevant in all of this.
*Another point I would like to bring up is the use of the footage to discredit and tear apart the reputation of Michael Brown. Even if he was guilty of this crime, he was still innocent until proven guilty. He should have been given a chance for the justice system to work. Of course the fact that he was African American and a man works against him within the justice system, but in spite of that, he still should have been given the opportunity to defend himself. Instead, the shooting officer played judge, jury, and executioner for Brown and he will never have his chance to tell his side of the story. And on the flip side, the officer is also innocent until proven guilty. He needs a chance to tell his side of the story, once they solidify what it really is...
*And my last point is this: Nobody is just the worst thing they have ever done. If Michael Brown was guilty of the robbery in the film footage, he deserved a chance to redeem himself. Young people make stupid mistakes all the time and it shouldn't necessarily cost them their life. From what his family says, he was a sweet, gentle young man who worked very hard, had just graduated high school and was going to go to college. All of those things are worth celebrating and go into making him the person he was. He wasn't "just" a "bad guy" who can be written off because of a bad choice he made one day. And again, on the other side, the shooting officer is more than the worst thing he ever did. Not much is known about him, but I would wager to bet he has done some good and amazing things in his life as well, and shouldn't be judged only for this incident, which may have been a choice, albeit a bad one, or perhaps it was a terrible mistake.
There are no winners in this situation. Everybody has lost something. I don't know what can be done to rectify the situation, and when we're dealing with a loss of life, I don't know that you can rectify that. I would hope that if anything good comes out of this, it would be opening the eyes to everybody in this country of the plight that affects so many men and women of color in this nation. They are our fellow American citizens, and they deserve the same rights and treatment that so many in white America take for granted. Let us stand up for one another and speak out against unfair treatment when we see it. Let us try to treat one another with the love, peace, and respect that we all deserve and wish for ourselves.