Friday, August 15, 2014

Make a Mighty Roar for Justice

I don't know if Michael Brown robbed a convenience store. Ferguson, Missouri Police Chief Tom Jackson says that Brown is the person in a video from a convenience store who stole cigars valued at $49 and shoved an employee who tried to block him from leaving the store with the stolen cigars. Chief Jackson acknowledges that the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Brown didn't initially stop Brown and his companion as robbery suspects but because they were walking in the street, also known as jaywalking.

What I do know is that even the Ferguson police chief has not disputed that Brown was unarmed when he was shot.  Whoever is in the video did not use a gun to rob the convenience store. However, the issue isn't did Brown rob the store; the issue is that an unarmed teenager was shot down in the streets, when by all eyewitness accounts, he had his hands raised in the universal sign of surrender.

If Michael Brown did rob the convenience store, does that make him deserving of being shot down in the street? Is the life of anyone worth so little that petty theft is a justification for taking it? A boy on the cusp of manhood was shot down, killed because ...? 

There's the puzzle, why was he killed? Why does he join a line of young, unarmed victims, mostly black males, shot down by people professing to be afraid or threatened by the very presence of these young people? Why do so many of the comments following the media accounts of these deaths repeat the same old lies about how violent black people are and what thugs we are? There are entire websites dedicated to making up statistics about alleged black on white crime, detailing lurid tales about black males sexually assaulting white women and beating white men. (see for example New Nation News or Violence Against Whites which cites to a dead link purporting to be the FBI crime statistics website)

However, the crime data collected annually by the FBI presents a very different story; not a single shred of data backs up these claims. The majority of violent crime, including murder is intraracial--taking place between people from the same racial and/or ethnic group. (see statistical data collected by the FBI and the US Department of Justice)

The hatemongers aren't a majority, just a very loud minority. Those of us who know better must continue to speak loudly, as many of you are already doing. We have to counter the messages that encourage and nourish bigotry of all types. We have to steadily and consistently avow that all humankind is created equal with certain unalienable rights. We have to say "no more" to this ongoing waste of human potential. We have the numbers; all we need to do is make a mighty roar in support of justice, fairness, and equality for all.

1 comment:

Capt. Fogg said...

Lurid tales -- perhaps another name for what poses as news coverage in America. They start wars and riots and get bad people elected to office and people will believe any of them that fit their prejudices.

There's a great deal of effort going in to making us all afraid of each other and I think it helps produce some of these incidents of officers and citizens shooting up people holding wallets or cell phones or packs of cigarettes and I recently saw a video of a man shot down in cold blood because an officer thought his cane was a shotgun. All this while some small town police departments are starting to look like the Army Rangers.

I don't know what the solution is, but I suspect it's not an easy one if there is one at all, but the idea that property rights trump all the rights we used to call "unalienable" and that disobeying some order is cause for shooting somebody to pieces in "self defense" makes me want to make some noise too.

Can we write it all off to bigotry or is this part of moving toward a Police State as well?