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North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory and the state’s republican led legislature had a very different way to address the police shootings of unarmed African-American men happening in our state and around the country. The most recent shooting took place in Charlotte just a few days ago. There are conflicting accounts of what happened but here are the basics. Keith Lamont Scott was sitting in his car waiting for his son to get out of school. A Charlotte police officer arrived on the scene to serve a warrant to another man who had no connection to Keith Scott at all. At some point Keith exits his car and a few seconds later the officer shot and killed Keith as his family and neighbors looked on in horror. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered but our governor Pat McCrory and the republican led legislature passed a bill last month that will further inflame the already tense relationship between African Americans and police. And the really sad part about the bill is there was no need for it at all. McCrory is up for reelection and his race became a lot tighter than he expected. To help turn out the republican base he crafted a number of bills just to get his supporters to turn out and vote for him in November.
A month ago they announced, passed, and signed into law a bill that prohibits the release of police body cam and dash cam video to the public. In order to see any of the video from police dash or body cams it has to first be approved by the governor or adjudicated by a judge. The bill was written to give the governor total discretion over this and there’s no way for a citizen or a journalist to demand a viewing or release of this footage. So Governor McCrory is perfectly fine with police brutality against African-Americans and police killing unarmed African-Americans, he just wants to keep it private. That’s his answer to this problem. That bill is a huge middle finger to the entire African American community and the governor along with his fellow republicans in the state legislature couldn’t care less.
To me it seems as if these guys pine for the days of Jim Crow and have passed a lot of legislation that gives credence to this theory. They want African Americans to suffer in silence while our rights are being trampled over daily. This new law also allows white people to ignore these horrible situations of police brutality, unjust murder, and misconduct perpetrated against African Americans. All they see is the angry protest and violence that follows. Without proper context and video evidence of the incident they may look at the community’s reaction and see it as unreasonable. Of course that was the intention McCrory and NC republican legislators had in mind when they drafted the bill. We’re supposed to ignore the violence and dehumanization when it’s coming from police, but everyone gets to pay attention to the protest that follows not even acknowledging that it was a response to an unjust shooting and one more life of an African American needlessly taken. Governor McCrory has shown us his character (or lack thereof) throughout his term as governor. He has shown the African American community what he really thinks of us through the bills he signs, the actions he takes, and the constituents he chooses to listen to. He let the extreme right-wing of the state’s legislature turn him into a callous unsympathetic alt-right cliche. I’m not sure why they even bother wasting money on body cams in my state when the public can’t even view the footage. The body cams weren’t going to end these wrongful deaths but they were supposed to bring a sense of accountability so the community could start to build trust with law enforcement.
So I ask myself What is our governor doing with these videos? Maybe McCrory and his fellow republican lawmakers collect these videos to show them when they have movie night at the governor’s mansion… eating popcorn and laughing at African Americans getting stopped by police for no reason, getting stripped searched on the side of a highway as cars slow down to witness the indignity, watching a man get chocked to death by police on a sidewalk while pleading for his life telling them over and over that he can not breath. Watching an 8 year old African American child playing alone in a park get shot by police before he could even see what was coming. Watching an unarmed African American teenager walking away from police then getting shot in the back. Then that same officer walks over to the teen’s lifeless body and decides to unload the rest of his clip into the already dead teen as the young man’s body heaved and convulsed after each shot hit him. Or maybe they are watching the one of the 13 year old African American girl who got thrown to the ground and manhandled like a rag doll before the officer puts his knee and his full weight into her back while pushing her face into the dirt while she screamed and begged for her mother, all for the crime of attending a pool party in an all white neighborhood thrown by a classmate. I bet Governor McCrory and those far right extremist he tries so hard to impress would get a huge laugh at all of that kind of stuff. Putting those new body cameras to good use.
In a shocking turn-of-events Maryland State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday that six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, due to a severed spinal cord, will be charged criminally. Attorney Mosby stood on the steps of the War Memorial Building in Baltimore before a crowd of reporters and local citizens and delivered a well thought confident and resolute statement explaining some of the details she gathered from her independent investigation. During that investigation she found evidence that lead her to believe the initial arrest of Freddie Gray was not warranted. The officers who arrested him lied in their statements and said he had an illegal switchblade but Mosby said Freddie had a legal pocket knife. Marilyn Mosby is new to the office of State Attorney only being there for 3 months now, which I believed played a part in her decision to charge and prosecute. She has no obligations or improper relationships with the police department, and she hasn’t been there long enough to owe anyone any favors yet.
Warrants were issued for the arrest of all six officers, and here are the names and charges:
Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office.
Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
If convicted of all charges, Goodson would face up to 63 years in prison. Rice would face up to 30 years and Porter, Nero, Miller and White would face up to 20 years.
It’s important to remember that this is just the beginning. It feels very vindicating to make it this far because we’ve seen prosecutor after prosecutor look the other way and decline to charge officers with anything when the life of an unarmed black man is taken. It’s ok to enjoy the relief we feel by crossing this first hurtle, but we have a long way to go before we can see true just justice. So don’t let this lure you into complacency or dampen the urgency and determination that has fueled protest and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. We’ve worked so hard to get the attention of our leaders and the world and as long as we keep the pressure on we’ll continue to make progress towards our ultimate goal of a total reconstruction of our entire criminal justice system and the removal of all institutionalized racism within the system.
After the murder of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown by a white Ferguson Missouri police officer, a protest movement began to emerge. The most visible and well organized movement was started by 3 women of color who were fed up with the injustice and wanted to do whatever they could to unite everyone around the idea that black lives have just as much value as any other and highlight the very apparent fact that a lot of police and other people in positions of power do not value black lives. This ugly truth has been verified by extensive studies and backed-up by police arrest/encounter statistics in every police department all over the country. I’ve written a number of blogs about the data and provided source information in every one of them, so if that’s what you’re looking for feel free to look through Socially Urban’s archives. This blog is about the 3 founders of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and how some well-meaning misguided men are questioning the movement because the founders are gay women. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi jumped right in from the very beginning in Ferguson even before the media arrived. They organized, they protested, they marched, they kept everyone up to date on twitter, and dedicated themselves to this movement. Black Lives Matter gave the movement a tangible legitimacy that it seemed to be lacking from the outside looking in.
When the movement went national they added another integral piece to the protest movement’s leadership and his name was Darnell L Moore who also happens to be gay. Keep in mind that none of these people are getting paid or doing any of this for money. Black Lives Matter is a nonprofit protest movement that started very small but quickly
became the catalyzing force behind a well oiled tech-savvy social media explosion that allowed the protesters on the streets in different cities to pool resources and push for specific political changes in the cities where police brutality surfaced and gained national attention. Here’s how Alicia Garza puts it “We were humbled when cultural workers, artists, designers and techies offered their labor and love to expand #BlackLivesMatter beyond a social media hashtag. Opal, Patrisse, and I created the infrastructure for this movement project—moving the hashtag from social media to the streets. Our team grew through a very successful Black Lives Matter ride in Ferguson, led and designed by Patrisse Cullors and Darnell L. Moore.”
Other protest movements and community activist began to use the “Black Lives Matter” slogan and infrastructure in other protest related activities and events. But when they would call for permission they never wanted the input of the founders. They would write articles and stories and completely omit the 3 lesbian founders and Darnell L Moore. Now that all of them are speaking out about it and wanting to bring attention to the work the black lgbt community is doing in the anti-police violence movement. Some are trying to inject their personal homophobia into this situation by questioning the motives of the Black Lives Matters movement strictly based on the sexuality of the BLM founders. altogether. If you’re a black person gay or straight this attempt to divide and conquer should sicken you. Police brutality and how they devalue the lives of black people needs EVERYONE who’s willing and able to fight. Gay activist bring so much knowledge and know-how to the movement because we’ve been relentlessly fighting and protesting for the right to marry for the past decade. They patterned their “right to marry” movement after MLK’s civil rights movement in the late 60’s
and because of that we now have legal gay marriage in 37 states with a case before the Supreme Court right now that will lead to gay marriage rights in all 50 states. You have to question the motivation of someone who’s willing to destroy an entire movement because gay people make them uncomfortable. The gay people protesting right beside you for the same cause is not the enemy. If we start thinking like that, we’ve already lost before we’ve even began. People like Tariq Nasheed who’s been one of the most vocal critics against lgbt people of color, has a history of misogynistic homophobic divisive hate-speech and if anyone cares about the movement against police brutality specifically against black men, they’ll see him for what he really is. A pseudo-intellectual idiot who should’t be taken seriously on any level. His message is outdated and counter-productive, and if listened to will divide and weaken the collective force the “Black Lives Matter” campaign has amassed. But no matter how hard they try to bury the 3 lesbian founders, we will continue to protest, speak-up, and march for what’s right. Whether we get the recognition or not.
Very relevant side note about a civil rights icon who most Americans haven’t heard of:
Martin Luther King’s most trusted adviser was a black gay man named Bayard Rustin. MLK knew Rustin was gay but saw the value he brought to the movement. Without Rustin there wouldn’t
have been a March on Washington, and MLK’s I Have A Dream speech wouldn’t have had the same grandeur and resonance without the image of 250,000 people of all colors uniting on the national mall all the way to the steps of the capital just to hear this extraordinary black leader speak. Whether there in person or watching on tv at home, the entire nation was captivated. That whole event was created and planned by Bayard Rustin. An out gay proud black civil rights hero who deserves to be recognized for his work within the movement.
More video of the events that took place after the murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice finally got released today (1/9/15) and it’s even worse than I expected. After watching the behavior of the officers in the video I thought to myself, this is what happens when life is devalued because of race. To people like me this video is sickening and hard to comprehend how children could be treated this way. A little boy murdered by police while playing on a playground. His older sister tackled and wrestled to the ground, forced in handcuffs then tossed in the backseat of a police car while watching her little brother bleed to death only a few feet away while police officers offer the dying kid no medical help at all. No one calls an ambulance, no one tries cpr, no one tries to stop the bleeding for a full 8 minutes. You can see them walk very casually around the bleeding dying kid with no sense of urgency. It was like Tamir’s life didn’t matter at all to them. It was more important to tackle and arrest his 14 year old sister who only wanted to help her dying brother.
If you read the account given by the officer before he knew this tragic incident was all caught on video, you’ll notice some disturbing similarities to the statements given by other officers who were also involved in shooting an unarmed African American. In the cases where there is no video, most officials and non minorities tend to believe the account given by police. But in every case where there is video of the event, the video directly contradicts the story given by police. What’s even sadder is even when there is a video that proves the officer lied or misrepresented the events that took place, the officer still does not get charged. Apparently murder, conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and giving false statements aren’t crimes when the victim is African American and the perpetrator carries a badge.
By watching the initial video of the shooting we’ve been able to confirm 5 lies that the Cleveland police department and Officer Timothy Loehmann have told:
1. Police said that Tamir Rice was seated at a table with other people.
TRUTH: Tamir Rice was not seated at a table with other people.
2. Police said that as they pulled up, they saw Tamir Rice grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
TRUTH: Tamir Rice does not appear to grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
3. Police said they got out of the car and told Tamir Rice three times to put his hands up but he refused.
TRUTH: Police shot and killed Tamir in less than two seconds and could not have told him to put his hands up three times.
4. Police said that Tamir Rice then reached into his waistband and pulled out the gun, and was then shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann.
TRUTH: Tamir Rice absolutely does not pull the toy gun out of his waistband and brandish it in any way. This fact is crucial.
5. The officer who shot and murdered Tamir Rice (Timothy Loehmann) was described as a rookie.
TRUTH: Timothy Loehmann was not a rookie, but had been an officer for over two years.
The civil rights activist, the radio/tv personality, the revered reverend, the best selling author, the voice of black America, the founder and president of The National Action Network Reverend Al Sharpton has been a lightening rod of controversy for decades now. But ever since Barack Obama became president Reverend Al’s close relationship with him has raised his national profile in ways that even he did not expect. The positives are quite obvious such as increased visibility which gives him a platform to bring attention to specific areas or incidents of injustice, an hour-long cable news program on MSNBC (Politics Nation), a lucrative book deal for The Rejected Stone which chronicles his personal evolution from a controversial street activist to a national civil rights icon, increased visibility for his nonprofit civil rights organization the National Action Network, and a seat at the table when new civil rights legislation gets crafted. His proximity to power is envied by many, but there is a downside to being as outspoken and unapologetically supportive of President Obama. That downside is Fox News and the cabal of conservative media who are dedicated to destroy the president, his legacy, and anyone who supports him.
Every liberal commentator and political activist in this country should expect harsh and sometimes unfair critiques from their conservative counterparts. It comes with the territory. I’ve heard people say a vigorous debate is a sign of a healthy democracy, which is true. But there’s a caveat that says if you’re going to enter the world of politics you better have a tough skin, a strong sense of who you are, and a clear set of guiding principles that underpins everything you say and do. If you’re lacking in any of those, it will show sooner or later and the power and influence you thought you had will all disappear. The Reverend Al Sharpton has been in the public eye fighting for civil rights for almost 5 decades and continues to prove himself effective when injustice victimize’s the voiceless. There aren’t many leaders who have a 5 decade long history that sees their power and influence grow exponentially without being the real deal. Character, integrity, and passion aren’t things you can fake sustainably. That’s why all the hate and vitriol being thrown at him constantly over the years have never stuck and that’s why many African-Americans respect and revere him as a leader. Conservatives tried to block Barack Obama’s first bid for President and failed. They tried to stop President Obama’s reelection and failed. Now they are trying to attack Sharpton and marginalize the power of his organization, and they are failing at that as well. Their most recent attack came from Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly after the murder of an unarmed African-American teen named Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri. The African-American community of that town expressed their anger and outrage through nonviolent protest. There was a very small number of people who used the protest as a cover to loot and vandalize local businesses. Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News hosts accused Reverend Sharpton of inciting violence and inflaming tension between the African-American community and the police.
Bill said Sharpton inserted himself into the protest to get media attention and no one asked Sharpton to get involved or for any help. Of course none of that was true and anyone who knows how to use google could debunk everything O’Reilly said with an internet connection and two minutes. For example, here are two video clips. The first video is Al Sharpton’s first speech given as soon as he arrived in Ferguson at the behest of Micheal Brown’s family. The second video is Bill O’Reilly lying on air saying Sharpton incited violence.
There’s not one word in Sharpton’s entire statement that anyone could misunderstand as inflammatory or a call for violence. Sharpton clearly called for peace and pleaded with the community to keep the protest nonviolent. Fox News and Bill O’Reilly never aired this clip and made a conscience decision to lie on air to their viewers. Fox does this all the time but O’Reilly lies over and over about issues that involve race. Here’s another video where O’Reilly lied saying that African-American democrat organizers of an MLK day event excluded white republicans from speaking. The day after he lied and ranted about this he had to apologize on air because the press called him out on it.
Bill O’Reilly has a very skewed racist view of black America and constantly confuses Hip Hop culture and entertainment with African-American culture. Al Sharpton invited O’Reilly to have dinner in Harlem at one of Harlem’s most popular eating establishments Sylvia’s. After the dinner O’Reilly told his radio audience about it the next day. He told them that he was surprised how clean and nice it was even though it was owned and run by African-Americans. He said no one was yelling profanity, everyone was nice and respectful, and the African-American’s eating there were well dressed and well-behaved. He was amazed by this. When talking about Bill O’Reilly I always go back to this story about Sylvia’s because it explains how he views African Americans. So when he calls our first African-American president and our first African-American attorney general thugs, and calls well-respected African-American civil rights leaders “race agitators” or “race hustlers”, we all know what kind of mind that comes from.
One of Al Sharpton’s most popular critiques from conservatives asks why doesn’t Sharpton talk about black on black crime. Why isn’t he organizing and marching in Detroit and Chicago where inner city crime is rampant? You’ll hear that one on Fox a lot too. I have to laugh every time I hear a conservative say that because it shows they have no idea what they are talking about. Al Sharpton and his nonprofit have organized rallies and marches in both of those cities. He held a widely televised town hall in Detroit and even temporarily moved into an inner city apartment in Chicago to see first hand what the impoverished residents were dealing with. Despite how easily accessible this information is, somehow it remains hidden from Fox and other conservatives.
Another popular critique from conservatives is Reverend Sharpton only wants to help black people, so that makes him racist. To debunk this first we need to understand what a civil rights activist is. A civil rights activist or a civil rights organization uses political levers to secure equal opportunity for members of a less powerful minority group. The key word there is “equal”. So if you’re working towards making things equal for every race, you are trying to give minorities the same rights and treatment as those in the majority or those who have more power. African-Americans are a minority group who have been and continue to be discriminated against because of race. So a civil rights organization or activist takes on issues where African-Americans aren’t being treated as equals (to whites). That does not mean you only want to help black people because you don’t like white people. That is just ridiculous. When we finally have racial equality then we will not have a need for civil rights activist anymore.
One more popular critique I’d like to discuss is why doesn’t Al Sharpton and his organization help out when a black person kills a white person. First we need to correct a common misperception. Al Sharpton and his organization do not get involved with every case where there’s a black victim and a white perpetrator. To get involved they look for instances where the crime that was committed has racial elements that lead to the crime or racial elements that have the potential to hinder a fair and equal outcome. I’ll use the Trayvon Martin case as an example. Al Sharpton did not get involved just because Trayvon was a black kid. He got involved because the district attorney in Sanford had no plans to charge George Zimmerman with anything. Check the facts and you’ll see that the D.A. hadn’t filed charges a full month after Trayvon’s death. Then the family called Reverend Sharpton for help. He organized protest and used his high-profile to get the media to pay attention to the incident. The pressure from media and other civil rights organizations finally forced the DA to file charges against George Zimmerman. So Sharpton and NAN weren’t asking for a conviction, all they were asking for was a fair trial. If the district attorney in Sanford would have presented the case to a grand jury (just like they are supposed to) there wouldn’t have been a need for Sharpton to get involved.
I wrote this blog because I thought Reverend Sharpton didn’t deserve all the hateful comments and coverage from conservative media. He is flawed just like any other human and has made mistakes in the past, but the people who are throwing slurs and criticizing him for being passionate about civil rights hasn’t done anything close to the kind of work he’s dedicated his life to. This man is cut from the same cloth as MLK or Kennedy. Don’t believe the racist caricature the conservative media has tried to make him out to be. Do some research about the real man and see what he’s about before passing judgement. We have so few national civil rights leaders left. We should be thankful that he is still able to fight on our behalf, even when his character gets called into question and the hate gets thrown. I’m not sure I’d be able to withstand that kind of scrutiny. So please do some research on him and his nonprofit group National Action Network and see for yourself. Don’t let people who have an agenda tell you who he is (me included).
The murder of unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri has captured the attention of an entire nation. Officials with the Ferguson police department have released very few details as of yet, almost a full week later. The hoarding of investigation details in cases like this are unprecedented and against Missouri state “sunshine” laws. We do not have the initial police report. We do not have a statement from the shooting officer. We do not have his full history and background as an officer. We do not have the results of the autopsy which was concluded days ago. We do not know how many shots were fired. We do not know how many witnesses were interviewed. We do not know if the shooting officer was interviewed or interrogated following the shooting. In normal cases where a shooting leads to the death of the victim all of these facts are released to the public usually within 48 hours. Sometimes it takes longer for them to release the autopsy results but never 7 days after the death. When a police officer shoots an unarmed teen, and that same officer’s colleagues are tasked with investigating that shooting, there’s a clear conflict of interest. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for them to investigate fairly, but everyone is going to be skeptical of their findings. The people need to feel like they are being treated fairly. That is why any investigation should be as clear and transparent as possible to show that community that they can be trusted. But when you withhold evidence, findings, and reports without an explanation as to why, that can inflame tensions and breed further distrust. Everything the Ferguson police department has done so far clearly shows that they are not going to be fair with their investigation, and their goal is not about justice or presenting the truth. Their only goal is to protect the officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager.
Whether or not Michael Brown’s family will see justice for the murder of their son remains to be seen. All of the evidence and details are not out yet. From everything I’ve heard so far it seems as though the officer was not in fear for his life, and he had no reason to take the life of Michael Brown. But that is my opinion, and not fact. It’s important to not rush to judgement in a case like this. So instead of blogging about whether the shooting was justified or not, I want to start a different conversation about perceptions vs reality and how perceptions get warped and manipulated over time and how perceptions can morph into reality both physically and even more interesting, mentally.
Right after news of this shooting started to become national, people were politicizing it. People felt like you had to take sides. We have such a juvenile simplistic way we go about looking at the world and everything in it. Everything has to be good or evil, hero’s or villains. The news media does this as well. I’m not sure if they are reflecting the public’s habit of doing this, or if they are the cause of this. I’m sure that’s a question that can’t be answered in just one blog post. But I do want to talk about our habit of doing this as individuals. Immediately following the shooting most news outlets presented the facts that were apparent. 1 – Unarmed black teenager gets shot multiple times by white police officer in broad daylight. 2 – Unarmed teen had both his hands up as the officer continued to shoot him until his body fell to the ground. 3 – Black citizens of Ferguson felt unfairly and disproportionately policed by local officers. 4 – Unarmed teen Michael Brown just graduated high school and had plans to start his first day of college the day after his death. 5 – Due to a long history of abuse at the hands of police, black people have an inherent distrust of them.
Those were the set of facts being presented at that time. We are programmed to find the hero and the villain in this situation (consciously or unconsciously). A majority of Americans would say Michael is the hero/victim so the cop must be the villain. Then there are those who are sympathetic to the (sometime) dangerous job of a police officer. They have this picture of what a young black male is. They see all of us as threatening, uneducated criminals. So after they hear the initial report they cast the officer as the hero and the unarmed teenager as the villain. As more details and information slowly leak out over the days following the shooting, people have already decided who’s the hero and who’s the villain. So every news story that reinforces their belief of who’s the hero and villain they believe it. Every news story that contradicts their hero villain pick gets ignored or rejected. This simplistic way of casting hero’s and villains have nothing to do with education. Right after the Zimmerman trial concluded I had a friend send me a link with a small note attached. He read my blog about the trial entitled “No Justice For Trayvon”. He wanted me to click the link and read some things about Trayvon Martin that I did not know. I clicked the link and ended up at a “News Of The World” page. They are a ridiculous internet tabloid who ran stories like President Obama gay, Michelle Obama is really a transgender man, and another story about lizard people infiltrating our government (just to name a few). So I read the Trayvon Martin piece they wrote. In it they said Trayvon was arrested 6 times, Trayvon raped a classmate of his, Trayvon was a drug dealer, Trayvon had guns, etc etc. Everything that defines the “thug” stereotype was in that bullshit article. Needless to say, none of it was true, and the source has serious credibility issues. But what shocked me more was the fact that my friend/acquaintance believed it all. He’s a very intelligent doctor but he still got duped by that website. YES, A DOCTOR. He got duped because he looked at Trayvon and saw a criminal. Trayvon fit the profile he had in his mind of someone capable of everything they claimed in that bs article. The story from that website reinforced who he already casted (in his mind) as the villain… Treyvon.
This hero villain casting started the moment you first heard about the Michael Brown shooting. Then a few days into the investigation Ferguson’s police chief decides to release a video tape that allegedly shows Michael Brown stealing some cigars from a convenience store. Some didn’t want to believe it was Michael, and others thought it verified what they already believed about young black males. If a police officer shot him, he must have done something wrong. For the people who cast him as the hero, it dulls the sense of injustice they first felt for Michael at the beginning. They won’t come out and say that outright, but you’ll notice a change in the level of their activism. They’ll stop talking about Michael’s shooting as much and pivot to a more generalized issue like police brutality, the militarization of police, or the relationship between the black community and the police. All of these are legitimate social ill’s that we need to be talking about and working to change, but what about Michael? Him being killed unarmed with his hands up in the air? The officer unloading his weapon shooting Michael Brown multiple times until he was dead and on the ground? The officers leaving his body in the middle of the street for four full hours as the blood drained from each bullet wound while the people of the neighborhood looked on in horror? What about all of that? How does a video tape of Michael stealing some cigars change your feelings about his life being taken needlessly? Michael was 18. Just beginning to enter adulthood. That video doesn’t define who he was, and it doesn’t define the man he would have grown up to be.
We are all human and every human being on this planet has made stupid mistakes at some point in their life. Especially as teenagers. I know 4 white girls who I went to school with got caught shoplifting in walmart. All 4 came from good families and did it just as a dare. They got caught but no charges were ever filed. They got to go home to their parents and I’m sure it scared them enough not to try it again. One of those girls is a dentist now. I’m sure that incident in Walmart has nothing to do with their character as adults. In that same Wal Mart two male black teenagers I knew through friends got caught shoplifting a few months after my classmates got caught. But this time it was a totally different story. They got arrested and lead away in handcuffs. They both spent the night in jail because their parents couldn’t get bail money. Both guys took a deal that included no jail time but records of their arrest will show up every time someone does a background check on them. That one stupid decision to steal something at 17 years old will haunt them for the rest of their lives. It will be harder for them to find employment, harder to lease an apartment, harder to buy a house or borrow money, and even take away their right to vote before they were old enough to vote. Michael Brown’s alleged crime does not define who he is, does not define who he was, and does not predict what kind of person he would have grown up to be. His youthful indiscretion and temporary lack of judgement does not make him a villain and it most certainly does not mean it’s ok for police to kill him for it.
*Michael Brown’s family is going through some pretty rough times right now. If you’re not able to join the protest or attend a rally, here’s another way to show your support. Donate some money to the Michael Brown Memorial Fund at http://www.gofundme.com/justiceformikebrown