Let’s be clear, the reaction to the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown is not about Michael Brown. It’s about the historically unfair and brutal treatment of blacks in this country. This is true particularly in the small cities, small towns and the southern parts of the United States. This case, although very different due to the circumstances, is perceived in this way, which is the reason for the outrage.
Michael Brown was not a good boy and will never be Sainted. Nor did his actions define the meaning of a misspent youth. The robbery of the store, which was shown on all of the conservative news networks clearly displayed a callous, menacing 6′ 6″ 292 pound giant, threatening a shopkeeper after he stole cigars from behind the counter. Then, about a half hour later he had an altercation with a police officer and attempted to grab his side arm from inside the officer’s police cruiser. At that point, Michael Brown should have been shot dead. Anyone crazy enough to attempt to disarm a police officer is a threat to everyone. The fact that he was able to get away after being shot in the hand was simply a fortuitous circumstance for Michael Brown. He should have immediately surrendered. But no matter which side of the story you believe, one thing is clear, he didn’t get face down on the ground and surrender. There are conflicting accounts about whether his hands were in the air but those are obviously based on people’s biases. The truth lies somewhere in between but his actions during that day demonstrate who Michael Brown was. Actions always speak louder than words.
So it’s crucial that Michael Brown be removed from this picture. He is not Trayvon Martin, a young man who was gunned down simply because of the color of his skin. A young man who was doing nothing wrong, simply walking through a neighborhood. But just because Michael Brown is not the person you want representing you, doesn’t mean there isn’t a real issue in this country. Why is the predominantly black neighborhood of Ferguson represented by a police force that’s 97% white? How can that be explained or justified? It can’t. There is no rhyme or reason to it. The police force of every community in this country should represent that community or a lack of understanding and mistrust will be inevitable.
Many inner cities are still dangerous despite the fact that serious crimes across the country are down. Men like Michael Brown see to it that they remain dangerous. But despite the reduction in serious crimes, the relationship between communities and police has not improved. To the contrary. Although stop and frisk in New York City has absolutely helped reduce crime in the city, it does nothing to build trust or reduce contempt for the police. The only way to do this is through community policing. Police officers must develop relationships with the people they are sworn to protect so that law enforcement and the vast majority of decent citizens, are on the same side. Police are seen as the enemy and a group to be feared. Whether or not this is true, makes no difference. Perception is reality.
Most police officers are great people and join their local forces to protect and defend law-abiding citizens. Darren Wilson appears to be one of those. Prior to that day, Wilson had never discharged his sidearm. In fact, before meeting up with Brown, he responded to a call regarding a sick baby. That’s what police officers do every day. That is not the picture of a man looking to “kill someone” as Michael Brown’s mother has suggested. However, there are always a few bad apples and they must be dealt with severely.
Most citizens simply want to live in a safe community where they can raise their children to be decent human beings. There is more in common than not. But the tide must turn and that can only happen by opening the doors of communication. People and law enforcement working together. Once that happens, most, if not all of these incidents will be avoided.