On August 9th we were arriving back in Santa Fe after a vacation excursion to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and mesa Verde National Park. Michael Brown was being shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri by police officer Darren Wilson. Riots broke out throughout the St. Louis area as news broke that Brown had his hands up when the cop shot him. The killing of unarmed Black men by police has become epidemic in America as racism rears its ugly head in opposition to a Black President.
I wasn’t able to watch the television coverage of the riots because the casita where I was staying didn’t have a TV but I did follow it on social media and through the New York Times. Yesterday a grand jury decided no charges were to be filed against the police officer and more unrest followed. Confronting violence with violence runs counter to everything Ghandi and martin Luther King Jr. have taught us. Sometimes tempers flare however and great injustice demands civil disobedience. That should never include violence though. Looting, shootings and theft of other’s property won’t win any converts to one’s arguments.
We know we live in an era of The New Jim Crow where mass incarceration fueled by unconstitutional stop and frisk harassment by police is funded by federal government grants. Growing up in America as a Black man is dangerous to one’s health and well being even in the 21st century. America hasn’t really come very far in terms of race relations. The virulent statements and deeds by the KKK regarding Ferguson amidst other threats to the President and other African Americans is ample evidence.
Speaking of evidence the grand jury decision came as no surprise to many. There simply aren’t any consequences when white cops shoot African American men. The testimony was taken by a grand jury which worked in secrecy with no cross examination of witnesses. The lack of transparency makes it all suspicious which will only feed the sense that justice was denied. If the prosecutor really wanted to pursue justice in this case he should have filed charges against Darren Wilson and let an open and public jury trial determine the evidence and render a verdict. The Brown family, the people of Ferguson and the Black community nationwide was denied such justice.
Why is it we hardly ever hear of unarmed White men being gunned down by cops? The militarization of police became a national issue because of Ferguson. Many community activists and leaders have questioned the wisdom of such tactics following the vast over reaction seen on televisions by millions. This may be the only good that comes from Ferguson. Yesterday “verdict” was a shame.