From the beginning there was something very wrong with this case in Ferguson.
Immediately after Mike Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police department showed video of Brown stealing cigars from a convenience store. Even as his body lay on the hot pavement, dead, the police showed more interest in protecting themselves and their officer than in anything else. They were going to jump in front of this, and make sure the American public knew that Brown was no saint.
That in and of itself is no surprise; there are no human saints, and teens more than other age groups are often rebellious, not interested in following any rules. Teens push the envelope as a matter of course, no matter his/her color or ethnicity.
But it was really important for the Ferguson Police Department to get that image and perception of Brown out, because it fed into white America’s belief that black people are criminals; if, then, Brown was shot and killed, everyone could see that the officer was justified. This was just another black thug.
As the protests and anger welled up in Americans across the country after hearing what witnesses said happened, the police in Ferguson stayed the course. Instead of talking to and with residents of Ferguson, at least pretending that they understood their angst, police dressed up like soldiers, putting on riot gear and using military weapons to protect themselves against the protesters. These people, the message was, are bad news. They are dangerous, out of control, angry for no reason.
It didn’t help that some of the protesters looted. That was fine with the police and the media, though. The looting fed into America’s image of who black people are and what black people do. The talk on the news was of violence, ironically but intentionally forfeiting discussion about the violence regularly meted out to black people by police – white and black.
Then, as we awaited the decision of the grand jury, all the media worried about was the threat of violence. They were worried about keeping the peace, not working for justice. There was nearly no empathy or concern shown for Brown’s family, and there was certainly no credence given to the people who protested daily – peacefully – on the streets in Ferguson.
A police officer on CNN yesterday said that the protesters were out there daily, “trying to kill the police.”
Now, the decision of the grand jury has been rendered, a grand jury which was made up of nine white people and three black. Their goal, it feels like, was to get that officer off the hook, which they did. It never felt, from the way the procedure was being reported, that the grand jury was interested in letting a family have reassurance that there would at least be an attempt to obtain justice for the murder of their child.
Darren Wilson got on television and thanked everyone who supported him.
He never voiced an ounce of empathy or sympathy for the parents of Mike Brown.
I did read that, in his testimony to the grand jury, he said Mike Brown looked like a demon. I imagine that when he said that, that the people sitting on the grand jury listening shuddered, grabbing hold to their own images of and beliefs about, bad, black people.
What this whole situation has reinforced is the notion that black lives, black people, do not matter. I daresay that if the kid killed had been white, and the shooting officer black, there would have been no grand jury. The officer most likely would have been arrested. That’s the way this nation works.
Black people all over this nation are angry, hurt …and discouraged. When will the lives of black people become as important as are the lives of white people?
Probably never. Not in this country.
A candid observation ….