Normally I would bite my tongue and keep my thoughts to myself regarding a classic situation of ‘police brutality’ and ‘racism.’ However, the protests and riots in Ferguson have sparked my interest, not because of the crime itself, but because of the way it is being handled by the citizens. Let me make one thing clear: I remain neutral on the outcome of the indictment because I wasn’t there, I don’t know what happened.. and unfortunately never will. There are two sides to every story, and unfortunately we are only being told one. I will point out that the one story we are getting focuses more on the actions of Mike Brown than Officer Darren Wilson, setting up the sense of fear, which justifies the officer’s actions.
What I really want to focus on here, is yes the riots are out of control. No people should not be resorting to violence in order to stop the violence. No people should not be taking the protests to the extremes of destroying their own community and hurting innocent people and businesses. That will not get them the change they are hoping for. Yes I agree with the people taking a stand on what they believe.
I do believe people have lost focus of what they are actually trying to do. To my understanding, the protest was to recognize police brutality, end racism, and support democracy. When the protests first began, things were more calm than they are now. They may have started out as a riot, but that’s probably because people were acting on impulse, not thinking about their actions. Also, it wasn’t only the citizens acting violently, the police were too. Pointing guns at reporters, tear gasing crowds for no reason. The citizens however, were acting out of pure anger derived from a long duration of silence and conformity. This was the last straw, and people were outraged.
In my opinion, they had every right to be outraged and upset with the way the situation was handled. Most of all, they had every reason to be upset that police were showing up in full military attire sending the message that they were there for combat, not to protect and serve. Although the media portrayed the beginning protests that continued for some time in Ferguson as violent. Reporters and citizens who were actually there, and who used twitter, were informing the rest of us how calm things had become. How the protesters were shaking hands with police, walking around with their hands up.
The way I look at this protest is not as an opportunity to commit crime and violence. Although some people may be acting that way, not all of them are. This is an opportunity to let their voice be heard, to let the police and the government know that we are not just going to stand around and let higher authorities walk all over us when they are in the wrong. We will fight for what we believe in, and we will not stop until changes are made. That’s why I agreed with the peaceful protesters in Ferguson.That’s when I decided I would stand with my people. We are powerless unless we stand together. This nation is supposed to be a democracy, we are supposed to be past racism. WE are supposed to be getting stronger as a nation, but how can we become strong if there are only a few key players? Why should we let the people of higher power call all the shots while we remain docile? We shouldn’t. We need to stand up for our rights, or they may eventually be ripped right out from under us in the blink of an eye. I mean, they pass laws all the time that are not in our favor, without us even knowing. They are probably doing it right now, using this case to take over the media and keep us occupied so that we aren’t thinking about what’s going on behind closed doors (maybe not, but it has happened).
So, no you don’t have to support the protest, especially if you believe the indictment was right. However, it baffles me that people are willing to blindly accept what the media has told us, and the testimony from Darren Wilson as factual and honest truth of the situation. I’m not saying Wilson was wrong, but police officers do commit crime, and they do lie, especially in these situations.
We only know what the media has told us about the life of Mike Brown and the events leading to his death. But we all know that the media has been caught in numerous lies, has left parts out of stories that are crucial to the information given, and most of all focus on all of the negative aspects- setting up that sense of ‘fear’ in order to justify that what they are doing is right. Or they focus on one particular aspect that keeps people from questioning the rest of the story.
At the end of it all, a person’s life was taken. He belonged to someone, people clearly cared about him. He made mistakes but did he deserve to die for them? Well we will never know because unfortunately, we will never know the full story. However, he was young, and if he were still alive, the crime he committed- shoplifting a handful of cigars, could’ve been treated as a juvenile instance of mischief. His family has asked for peace and I think the least we could do to support them is respect their wishes.
Here’s an interesting article/video from truth-out.org of the interview with Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He makes some valid points.