November 25, 2014

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a white police officer in Ferguson Mo. is not only tragic, but is charged with tension because of the inconsistency of witness testimony and the history of real and perceived racial bias in the area. I’m not pleased with the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, I have seen no compelling evidence that he needed to kill Brown to save his own life. I am relieved that proceedings have been more transparent than usual, with the evidence presented to the Grand Jury being shared with the public. This is a complex case, and the result, like it or not, was achieved through the justice system. However, I think there is insidious bias within our society, and our justice system that would have yielded a very different result if the roles were reversed. Imagine if Michael Brown had shot an unarmed Darren Wilson in the middle of the street and claimed it was self-defense. I think Brown would be facing life in prison. In my experience (I’ve been beaten up by police on a few occasions with my only provocation being that I put up art without permission), the police are often as cavalier about rules and laws as the criminals they despise. Regardless of the details in question in Ferguson, abuse of authority by those meant to “serve and protect” is far too common. I know some really cool cops, but what about the ones who are abusive? Who polices the police? I understand why many people of color feel frustrated and vulnerable to police abuse. I disagree with rioting and looting, because authorities always use unrest to justify their oppressive tactics, but I understand how feelings of powerlessness and frustration manifest in some sort of destructive retaliation from those who feel wronged.