mike brown

The tale of the shooting of Michael Brown on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri in August of 2014 will soon reach its denouement. Or not.

The world is breathlessly awaiting the results of a Grand Jury investigation that will determine whether Ferguson police officer Darrell Wilson will be indicted for Brown’s death..

If Wilson is indicted, that only initiates another chapter in the tale. Then will come trial, verdict, and finally public reaction. If he is not, the reaction will come sooner.

The tale…and any potential moral…hinge on whether Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown. Justification  depends on whether Brown had attacked Wilson in an attempt to get Wilson’s gun and he then feared for his own life and had to use his weapon to defend himself. Brown’s supporters maintain that, even if there were an initial struggle, that contact had been broken and Brown was trying to get away, if anything, and that Wilson wantonly gunned him down.

It does not matter. Of course it is a life and death issue for the Brown family and his friends and also for the thousands of people taking up his cause in person. There are millions of other observers such as myself who care ardently about the outcome.

But it does not matter. Or it should not matter.


If we focus solely on the circumstances of Brown’s death and what justice means as an isolated incident, we risk losing a golden opportunity to address and solve a severe societal defect that needs to be addressed and can be solved.

The ultimate issue is not whether Brown’s death was a justifiable homicide. Instead it is what do we do about the way young black males are far too often viewed by law enforcement as a lethal threat requiring a lethal response. In reality it is not simply young black men facing this challenge to their very existence but older black men, frequently black women, Hispanics, the mentally ill, and other demographics looked upon with disfavor, whether through genetics or institutional conditioning of those in charge.

There are far too many other examples of Michael Brown in this nation whose blood has been spilled in Missouri and on the streets of New York City or in Salt Lake City or in Florida or in Pittsburgh or it may happen in your town on your streets or in your Walmarts.

Yet there is a general reluctance on the part of the public and of prosecutors to hold officers responsible for the carnage they commit, generously extending the benefit of the doubt…in effect granting amnesty.

Not all these shootings, mostly killings, are unrighteous, but neither are they all righteous as they are deemed.

And it is not merely a certain mindset that is to be faulted but also the training and indoctrination that tells police officers that status begets certain privileges but low status begets  certain suspicions.

I have stated elsewhere that the standard police motto….”to serve and protect”…seems in these cases to have been amended to “shoot first, screw ’em later when they ask questions”.

I refuse to catalog all the examples which could bolster my argument here. They are in the news every week and easy to find. For those who believe as I do sheer numbers alone are more than persuasive but for those who are blind to the phenomenon no numbers exist to merit what they consider to be disrespect for law and order by both the victims and those who protest on behalf of victims no longer able to do so themselves.

Whether Ferguson will be marked as watershed or aberration will be determined by history.

To those who value justice no matter one’s station in life Ferguson will remain in hearts and minds.


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  • Devildog  On November 17, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    The “ultimate issue”, as you put it, is how the Black community can heal itself so that even Blacks no longer cross over to the other side of the street when “thugs” are approaching them. Since it has been said by some that Blacks can’t be racists, I guess it is only Whites who cross the street that are racists.

  • umoc193  On November 17, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    What thought process did you go through, if any, to come up with that inane, irrelevant comment?

    • Devildog  On November 17, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      The “ultimate issue” you say. “…a severe societal defect that needs to be addressed…” you say. What is that, you say. Oh, it’s young Black males who ” are far too often viewed by law enforcement as a lethal threat requiring a lethal response”.

      So, that according to you is the bane of the law-abiding 98% of the Black community. If we only could solve that problem. I submit that while that may be/is a problem, it is like a pimple on the back of an elephant in terms of important problems facing the Black community-such as Black on Black crime/killing as well as Black crime in general. Fix that and you will take the most important step in eliminating/reducing how police view young Blacks.

      That my friend is the though process I went through to come up with my thoughtful, relevant comment.

  • umoc193  On November 18, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    You mis-read. I spoke only of the ultimate issue concerning the Ferguson situation, not the ultimate in our overall lives or even the ultimate in race relations.

    It doesn’t matter whether Wilson is indicted or not or, if he is, whether he is found guilty or not. The system for determining that is itself flawed. So, no matter what the outcome re: Brown/Wilson these cases will recur with frequency until addressed in the overall context.

    • Devildog  On November 18, 2014 at 4:24 PM

      Okay UMOC, at the risk of again misreading, or misunderstanding, the ultimate issue is not how young Black males are viewed by law enforcement too often as a lethal threat but, rather, the BEHAVIOR of young Black males (or, at least, of too many of them). If law enforcement never, in your opinion, mistreated Blacks, my ultimate issue would still remain as an overwhelming societal problem, affecting mostly the Black community.

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