Archive | November, 2014

On Ferguson

Ferguson shootingPreface: On August 9,, 2014, Michael Brown, 18, had an altercation with Darren Wilson, of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department. The confrontation ended when Officer Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown.

After hearing seventy hours of testimony from sixty witnesses, the Grand Jury refused to return an indictment against Officer Wilson, who had admitted firing twelve shots at Mr. Brown, hitting him eight times.

There is of course far more to the story. You can find it many places. These are my thoughts on the matter.

Rioting. Burning police cars and looted drugstores. This is what America wants to see in the aftermath of The Ferguson Grand Jury.

Anger has been described as “the most accessible emotion”. It’s easy to piss someone off – to piss everyone off. A lot easier than, say, making someone laugh, or cry, even think. So news-mongers do what’s easiest to attract viewers, and everyone’s happy afterward. Anger, after all, is the emotion of winners.

Fear is of course always available, too. Just as easily accessed, it is often thought of as a corollary of anger. Both stimulate the adrenal gland. Hey, that’s what amusement parks are for.

Justice was never the issue in Ferguson, only anger and fear. Michael Brown’s anger, Darren Wilson’s fear. I don’t recall those specific subjects ever being addressed though. I’m sure I heard a version of the events of August 9 in which Michael Brown attacked Darren Wilson. If Darren Wilson was not frightened by such an attack, then according to “Rambo”, he could have incapacitated Michael Brown without killing him. Of course, he would have been inhuman. Alternately, if Darren Wilson was angry, probably Michael Brown would have been scared. After all, Darren Brown was armed. I didn’t hear a version with Michael Wilson pleading for reason, however. I would have expected that. Anger and fear. Justice had no part in it.

Sandwiched in among the flames and rhetoric, ABC’s “Good Morning America” carried clips of an interview in the street in Ferguson with Brittany Packnett, a member of the Ferguson Commission Teach for America. In it, she said, “Dr. King said to a different reporter,’Riots are the language of the unheard.’ So what we really have to ask ourselves is what is being said in this community that has been suffering for so long that we haven’t heard?”

She said she saw “profound grief, utter anguish…people who didn’t think justice was served or that there was even a chance for justice.”

Chris Rock tweeted, ” A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect ” – W.E.B. DuBois.

The outstanding issues left on the table. When do we begin to face them?