Let me start by mentioning that I get it. I get that many people are upset that a young man is dead in a senseless act of violence. I get the need and desire to assert blame and hold someone accountable for a life being taken.
Eighteen year old Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri August 9, 2014 by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. His death sparked massive protests and riots in and around Ferguson at the time, and again last night when the county prosecuting attorney reported a Grand Jury’s verdict that Wilson was justified in the shooting.
I’m angered by the violence and senseless destruction by people who aren’t seeking justice. My guess is most of them are opportunists looking for every chance they can to be destructive and to steal. It takes a senseless violent episode and puts it on steroids. It makes a tragic situation much worse. How did the small business owners and their employees who have no job to return to today bear any responsibility for the shooting or the Grand Jury’s verdict? Explaining away such outrage as mere emotional responses to tough news is outrageous in itself. These people are thugs and criminals, not protesters; and they’re not to be respected. They’re not patriots to be viewed in the same positive light as past Americans who exercised mostly non-violent protests to convey need for change. The American tradition is not molotov cocktails, burning buildings, and assaults on police officers.
What we know about the shooting is this. Michael Brown stole a package of small cigars at a convenience store. He assaulted a store employee who tried to stop him as he left the building. Unlike what had previously been reported we now know through the Grand Jury transcripts that officer Wilson knew of this crime and suspected Brown of being the perpetrator when he came upon him and a friend of Brown, Dorian Johnson, as they walked down the middle of a street that August afternoon. We know that Wilson stopped his patrol car in the middle of the street, confronted Brown and Johnson, and that Brown attacked Wilson and tried to kill him when he tried to take the police officers gun as they wrestled inside the police cruiser. A gun shot was fired during the altercation and Brown’s hand was grazed with the bullet causing considerable bleeding. Blood was found in the car and outside on the street. And gun powder was found on Brown’s wound indicating a shot from very close proximity.
What we also know is that Brown, though only 18, was a fully grown man. He was 6-foot 4-inches and weighed 292 pounds. That’s a huge man! And angry huge men are very intimidating. I’m not as big as Brown, but at 6′ 1″ I know my temper can and has intimidated others in my past. The blood on the street indicates that Brown walked away from the confrontation in the car, but then turned around and came back at Wilson; a span of 21 feet. Wilson says Brown was attacking him again and had a fierce look on his face “as that of a demon”. That’s when Wilson fired the series of fatal shots.
By turning to walk back to the officer we know one thing. Brown was not afraid or concerned that Wilson had a gun; which leads me to ask the protesters what would you do if someone who just attacked you, tried to steal your gun and shoot you, was now coming back at you (21 feet is not just a few steps)? Would you try to talk with him, calm him down, run from him (if you could. Remember Wilson was in or near his car)? Can you seriously say you would do anything different from what Wilson did?
The death was senseless! Of this there is no debate. But it was senseless because this hulking young man committed some senseless acts including attacking a police officer who was trying to talk with or detain a suspect in a crime.
Michael Brown ought to be on Thanksgiving break from college this week, as he was planning on furthering his education. He ought to be hanging with friends and preparing to watch Thursday football and stuff what must have been an enormous appetite with turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, candied yams, and whatever else his family puts on the table to celebrate that for which they are grateful. He ought to be. But he’s dead. And he’s dead because of, based on a preponderance of evidence, his own choices.
It sucks. It’s sad. It’s even maddening. It shouldn’t have happened. But until this country solves its race problems it’s going to happen again. Police and others in authority need to completely wipe out and eliminate all people responsible for truly guilty acts of unnecessary violence and discrimination. And African-Americans need to vigorously fight such people and such acts. But they shouldn’t cry wolf every time an African-American is hurt, killed, or jailed because of their own criminal behavior. Such explosive outcries only foment distrust and hatred. And its my belief this distrust and hatred is learned, and was at the forefront of Michael Brown’s mind when he took the steps toward Darren Wilson that ended his young life.
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