The all too familiar scene of civil unrest in Ferguson continued after the St. Louis county prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown. These have been tense and trying moments for not only the city of Ferguson but for the United States as a whole. Each of our contributors reacts to the decision and comment on the outcome and the future.
Amber: The template is being set – a formula for which minorities can be slaughtered that will always equal injustice. This blueprint, this scheme, this almost prototypical concept is older than any living person. It will only be disproven when we realize that the odds are never in our favor. Snap out of this delirium! The pretense under which we exist on this continent sets the marker for how we’re regarded consciously and subconsciously, by others and by ourselves.
Rioting does not matter. It will not change anything. Superficially destroying that city does not matter. In fact, they will take our hard earned tax dollars to begin to repair it tomorrow and tell us why public education and other public programs can’t be fully funded next year. As advised by our great leaders before us, we must seek political and economic control.
If every eligible voter became an active, registered voter, things would change. If we recruited candidates that represented our interests, things would change. If every voting age minority voted in every single election no matter what, things would change. If we decided we would not consume products and services made and provided by entities that don’t represent our interests, things would change.
Media, both social and traditional, were not to blame here, contrary to prosecutor Robert’s statements. The broken system, that we have not repaired, is to blame.
We are identified only by the names for which we answer. We are not victims. This system does not serve us. We must recreate the system, and if we don’t, see you again next year.
Nick: I am once again in awe of the United States judicial system. I can’t understand how the death of an African American teenage male does not warrant at least an indictment. I honestly believe whatever actions that the community chooses to take is entirely appropriate.
The police and the justice system have always been an issue. We have police throughout the United States that are afraid of the citizens, especially the black males. Police are supposed to be courageous, not afraid of their environment.
We have an unfair justice system that continues to fail in critical times. Who do we run to when we are in danger?
Sadie: I feel the best reaction is to join together to create positive messages rather than violence because that’s what society wants. In order to make a change we have to think smarter. We have to not play inferior or weak but rather play like kings and queens (be strong).
I feel that the system is put in place to manipulate and enforce the continuous negative view of those that are of the minority and of low income. They want the people in that category stay at the bottom. Society looks at black people as thugs not as leaders and don’t respect them. No matter what evidence is put in place to show a murder, the outcome is always the same. We have seen this before. Murdering someone is supposed to be a crime and not a way to showcase how weak our justice system is.
Spencer: The grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown conjures up many emotions for me–but surprise is not one of them. It’s been evident during the entire course of the investigation that the police department in charge of investigating the case, along with prosecutor Bob McCulloch, had no real intention of bringing the case to trial if they could help it. We have heard two completely different sets of “facts” surrounding this case, and it’s not easy to determine who to believe, but McCulloch and the police chief were obviously on Wilson’s side from the start.
I think that a strong reaction to this decision is inevitable from many across the country, and I think that’s a good thing. For as long as the USA has existed, our justice system has not given the lives and choices of black people the same weight as those of white people. This case is just a symptom of a larger problem, and by sharing our anger and disbelief about this case, we can continue our deeper conversation geared towards ensuring all people’s lives and words are treated equally. It’s also important for us to remember that it is possible that Darren Wilson’s version of events was the correct one. We still don’t really know what happened on that day–we have been given two sets of facts, one of which has been amplified by the police and the prosecutor, and it’s not entirely clear which set of facts is the truth. Might Darren Wilson have been found innocent in a jury trial? Yes. It seems to me though that it should have been allowed to reach that point.
I still see two major issues brought up by this case. First of all, Ferguson has started a good conversation about racial bias, but it’s also started some bad ones. The racism among internet trolls on news sites, Twitter, and Reddit continues to astound me. We’ve also seen several conservative commentators essentially tell black people to “sit down and shut up,” as if nothing about this situation speaks to a larger racial issue that we need to confront. I don’t believe that the majority of people, even people in power, even conservative Republican people in power, are racist. I do, however, believe that there is a severe lack of understanding about the difficulties that black people face and have faced for the last 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement. I think conservatives tend to believe that after the 1960s, structural and institutional racism simply died out, when we know it has only gone further undercover. One thing we need to do is push for in-depth history and sociology education in our schools–public and private. We can make sense of what happened in Ferguson only if we understand the power and privilege that comes with being white.
And of course, there is the question of the trustworthiness of our police officers and departments. Police statements about the case have contradicted pictures that we have of the scene and the police have held several confusing press conferences where they have seemed more interested in calling Michael Brown a thug than they have in determining what actually happened. The response to protests after the initial event was also shameful–when you confront your community with tanks and grenades, you shouldn’t be surprised that your community prepares for a fight. Did some looting take place unprovoked? Yes, absolutely. But the heavy-handedness of the police response–treating the entire Ferguson community like a war zone–was counterproductive and offensive. And that’s to say nothing of the questionable racial makeup of the Ferguson police force.
One of the biggest changes we can work toward from this tragedy is to mandate that all police officers wear body cameras. Having every action of the police recorded would ensure that we know what really happened in future situations like this, and we don’t have to rely as much on the existing power structure to investigate one of their own–because as we can tell from this event, they can’t be trusted to do that.
Raven: I am not shocked by the jury’s decision. The forensic facts supports his self defense claim. An acceptable reaction for African Americans is to teach youth how to properly interact with police officers. No more pointless riots and more unnecessary injuries.
Many Americans have little respect for police officers and honestly it’s many of the police officers fault. There are a lot of bad cops out there. The police department needs to do a better job at recruiting police officers preventing burnouts and desensitization and training officers to not let personal biases or values effect their performance.
Tierra: How can people get mad over people being angry over this outcome? It was definitely no surprise, but often times, anger evokes a change (even if it’s not through the right avenue) What makes you angry?
I’ve heard many say that riots don’t do shit, but cause destruction in our own community…alas, that might be true, however, I can’t say that I don’t feel the anger and heartbreak in Ferguson and in the hearts in many of my brothers and sisters around the United States.
For my anti-rioters (including myself), when is the last time you intentionally mentored a younger sister or brother? When is the last time you did anything to give proof that black life matters? When is the last time you started a dialogue with others who are less likely to even watch (or care about) what’s happening in Ferguson?
Sometimes, it takes anger for people to want to change things. If you haven’t wanted to change things…I guess you aren’t angry enough.
Xavier: I am neither shocked nor outraged about Wilson not being indicted. The decision rendered by the Grand Jury has not stirred me toward anger or contempt for the justice system. With that being said, I do feel like these events demand systematic problem-solving. The events as a whole are an indication that there are problems that need immediate attention and immediate solutions.
A comment was made by a reporter on HLN reintroducing the idea that this case was the tipping point of a chain of instances that have been longstanding in Ferguson, MO. That single comment is the real issue: the fact that these types of situations have seemed to occur frequently is the overarching theme. That comment about the history of events that have transpired in Ferguson echoes the pains experienced by numerous families throughout the country. This did not begin with Mike Brown. Hopefully, this decision encourages a systematic approach to policy changes and world change.
African American people don’t populate every aspect of government within many cities. We don’t own the real estate and typically don’t control the infrastructure. So, we are living in places that are governed and owned by people of different demographics. We have to learn the fundamentals and practice the fundamentals. By itself, being a predominantly black neighborhood will not ensure that black people’s needs are met.
World change takes knowledge, strategy, and political prowess. We have to put our minds to work. Peaceful protesting and marches garnered media attention during the Civil Rights era, but the real change took place when African Americans learned the American system of government and learned how to operate within the law to make change happen. We need the peaceful protests, AND we need the education necessary to actually make change happen. We cannot rely on protest. We cannot rely on emotions and rallies to make change happen. There is a hidden component of the Civil Rights era that my generation has not seen. There were strategies used that have never been televised such as the community meetings, the protest preparation sessions, the collection of money prior to demonstrations so bail could be posted for protestors, etc. There is more to be done than is being done.
A larger problem is that America is a country that ignores the elephant in the room. A larger problem is that “race issues” is not a topic that we can discuss publicly and on a large scale. A larger problem is that emotional responses to tragedies are often the only response. A larger problem is that lawsuits make change happen, not concern for the welfare of others. There are an infinite number of larger problems, but the largest problem is that a mother and father bury their son, killed by a law enforcement officer. Despite any of the other facts, the largest problem is that a mother and father lost a son and a law enforcement officer is the man behind the trigger. Justified or not, that is a problem. Despite skin color and any other fact, the core problem is that an American teenager has been killed by a person that has the task of protecting that same person. Any scenario that leads to that outcome needs to be studied and prevented.