On Saturday, August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, a 6’3” Black youth eighteen years of age who had recently graduated from high school was stopped while walking in the street by a patrolling police officer in an official vehicle. He was unarmed but shot six times, with one bullet entering the top of his head, and killed. Another bullet was removed from the wall of a nearby house. There may have been other rounds fired.
The police officer, Darren Wilson by name, wrote up no report on the shooting, presumably on the advice of his attorney. He is currently on administrative leave with pay awaiting the outcome of this occurrence. Even though he has made no official statement about the shooting over $234,000 has been collected for his defense.
A report was issued about a week later, because it was demanded by the Freedom of Information Act, which had been put out by the Ferguson Police Department stating that a homicide had been committed on August 9th without stating who had been shot or who did the shooting.
A Grand Jury which meets once a week has been empowered to hear the evidence about the killing. Presumably Wilson has been invited to testify before this group. To my knowledge this is an unheard of event since he is the one being investigated.
The Ferguson police captain in his initial statement gave out no information about the shooting but stated that Brown was suspected of stealing cigars at a convenience store. When asked by a reporter if this had anything to do with the shooting he answered emphatically that it did not.
The next day some unknown individual, presumably on the police force, stated that evidence of marijuana was found in the autopsy. This was neither confirmed nor denied. It would seem that the police position is to support their man without finding our why the police officer emptied his revolver into an eighteen year old teenager.
I was somehow reminded of the United States in the 1950s when we were in the middle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Dwight David Eisenhower was president and John Foster Dulles was his Secretary of State. Dulles’ policy with the Soviet Union was one he called “Brinksmanship.” Whenever the Soviet Union did something the U.S. did not like he would threaten to drop an atomic bomb in order to solve the problem. Unfortunately the use of an atomic bomb was too much force for a minor infraction.
At the time a Las Vegas bookie would have given very low odds against the U.S. getting involved with W.W.III. Hollywood made films dealing with the world after an atomic war. Fortunately there was no atomic war. We came close at times, particularly in the early 1960s with the Cuban Missile Crisis but there was never a hot war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. We may not now be friends with Russia or approve of everything she does but we are not about to go to war with that nation. Somehow all problems were eventually solved diplomatically; war is not an option.
Why did police officer Darren Wilson kill Michael Brown? Had he been around in the 1950s and acted as precipitously the world would not today be as it is.
From what we know Brown had been jay-walking in the street? Did the policeman say something overly sarcastic to him and did Brown respond in an overly negative fashion to him? Did the White police officer feel he was being disrespected by a Black who was far down the pecking order from him? Was the effect of this to put the officer into an emotional rage and did he draw his pistol and leave the car at this point emptying his gun into the teenager who had raised his hands in surrender? Would he have done as much with a white youngster? If it had been a Black policeman and a White youngster would the officer been put on administrative leave with pay? The issue here is totally crazy. Would a defense fund been contributed to a Black police officer?
Ferguson is a former “Sundown Town” with a population that is 63% Black. What does this mean?
When I was in the military, stationed at an installation, near Aiken, South Caroling in the mid-1950s I remember going to town in the evenings and seeing elderly Blacks walking in the street. While it was no longer necessary this had been required prior to W.W.II and the Civil Rights Movement. The elderly Blacks still did it from force of habit or remembered fear.
A “sundown town” did not even do this; the place was closed to all Blacks after sundown. No Blacks were allowed out on the streets at that time.
This is the tradition in Ferguson of which, no doubt, all its Black citizens are cognizant.
There are in the city three Black police officers on the Ferguson police force. The overwhelming majority is White. The White police chief, by his actions, does not seem particularly sensitive to his community or overly bright.
The killing brought out the citizens of Ferguson who continued protesting and marching throughout the day and night. The police were present during that night and others with military gear and weapons so that they could keep order. They used canned smoke and tear gas upon crowds that were not disorderly. They claimed that shots had been fired and Molotov Cocktails had been thrown. Fortunately for them the bullets were so badly aimed that they did not hit anyone and the Molotov Cocktails also did no damage. The probability is that both of these claims were a fiction by the police to justify their behavior.
The governor of the state took the policing of the city away from the local police and gave it to the Highway Patrol which was headed by a Black man and brought sanity to the situation. However the protests still continue and tear gas and smoke were again used in the city.
What is the point of all this? In addition to the murder of Michael Brown and wanting justice for his death, against what is the purpose of the protest?
What is the value of a Black life against that of a White person? Statistically one of every three Black males will spend some time incarcerated. Is this because they are criminally bent or because a basic prejudice and fear exists against Black males. Statistically they are just as innocent or guilty as White males. Slavery may have ended in 1865 with the 15th Amendment to the Constitution but the feelings it engendered are still with us. Isn’t it time the United States became a country where all its population is treated equally?