|Protester in Oakland, CA. (November 24, 20014)|
Last night the Grand Jury determined not to indict Daren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old African American who was unarmed.
Following the decision not to prosecute Wilson, riots broke out in Ferguson, MI. as well as in other cities such as Oakland, CA.
The issue surrounding the protests is the belief that relations between police officers and black communities are inhospitable; it is believed that these citizens are frequently treated unfairly.
While I believe it is acceptable to protest the decision (and many of the protests were peaceful). I do not believe that looting stores, burning buildings and cars, and other such acts are justifiable.
Two wrongs do not make a right. Turning to violence when one does not perceive that justice was done does not help anyone’s cause.
I am saddened by all the violence that took place in our country last night. It is embarrassing that we in the civilized world cannot do better.
That being said, those rioting, celebrities taking to twitter, and others protesting the decision, did not have all of the evidence in the case.
When an officer shoots someone, he or she typically has a good reason for doing so.
In this case, Michael Brown yelled at the officer when he first asked him to get out of the street where he was blocking traffic. Brown then proceeded to taunt the officer. When the officer attempted to exit his vehicle, Brown pushed him back inside and slammed the car door. The window was rolled down and Brown proceeded to punch the officer through the open window.
During the scuffle in the police car, Brown even attempted to take the officers gun.
It is not surprising the Brown was shot, however, it is surprising that he was shot multiple times. While he was being shot, his hands were not raised in surrender according to Wilson. Brown was allegedly still trying to attack the officer.
I know there are some officers who are unethical and who make decisions based on racial prejudice. That is a problem with the system. I also know that there are many officers who are doing there jobs well and for the right reasons. They are giving their lives to serve our citizens. I believe that in most cases, they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Wilson may not have known whether or not Brown had a weapon of any kind. Wilson stated that Brown put his hands in his waist, perhaps the officer believed he was about to pull out a weapon. Either way, when someone attacks an officer, the officer must in the heat of the battle decide how much force to use. If he truly believed his life was in danger, than he made the right call. If he did not believe his life was in danger than he did not make the right call. It is not for me to say, but the Grand Jury was given the task of determining whether or not he was justified in his actions.
The system of justice in our country is not perfect, but it is better than the alternatives. As President Obama wisely stated last night, “We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.”
The picture I posted above shows a person carrying a sign that reads “Black Lives Matter.” What is interesting is that on the truck behind him, the words read “Kill Cops.” I would argue that all lives matter. In fact, on this very blog I have argued that all human life is intrinsically valuable. I have also argued that we are to respect our government and submit to its authority.
Was the killing of Michael Brown racially charged? I do not know, if it was that is a tragedy. If it was not, the situation is still a tragedy. It is tragic anytime a life is taken, whether by an officer or by anyone else. Michael Brown’s family must now live with the results of last night’s decision. Officer Wilson must now live knowing that he took a life based on a decision made in the heat of a difficult situation, whether right or wrong.
Last week another young man was shot (this teenager was 12) he had an air-soft gun and was scaring people with it in a city park. 911 was called and officers arrived to the scene. He was told to put his hands in the air and instead reached for his gun. The officer’s shot him and he died. This is another tragedy. But again, the officer’s had to make a decision and they did not at the time know the gun was an air-soft. The boy had taken the orange indicator off of the barrel.
Too often, when officer’s do not react with enough force, they end up being badly hurt or killed in the line of duty.
I suggest that we pray for the family of Michael Brown. I suggest we pray for Officer Wilson. I also suggest we pray for those who do not believe justice was given last night. We need to pray for those involved in the violence and looting. We need to pray for our police officers. They have a difficult job and are regularly forced to make very difficult decisions. In addition to praying, we need to make sure that our own actions are not racially charged.
In the wake of last nights events. It would be easy for African Americans to wrongly suggest that white people do not care about them or their well-being. It would also be easy for white Americans after seeing the riots to think that African Americans had wrong motives for protesting the verdict.
The fact of the matter is that all life is valuable and we need to make sure we ourselves treat all people with dignity. We need to respect those who keep the peace. We need to show patience and love towards those we deal with everyday. We need to do our part to make this world a better place by caring for all those around us. “All Lives Matter!!!”