Once again, this nation faces the questions of justice and equality stemming from the killing of a young African American man by a law enforcement official. The tragic killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by Officer Darren Wilson was sadly a story so similar to those we have seen before.
I have to make my standard comment that “I wasn’t there” and I haven’t read or heard all of the evidence that the grand jury heard so I can’t make a judgment as to Officer Wilson’s guilt or innocence. But, I can say that there were many aspects of the grand jury procedure in this case which raise questions as to the objectivity of the entire endeavor and those should raise concerns for all of us.
There is no justification for violence, looting and damage to property. But, the anger that is felt after the grand jury decision needs to be recognized and confronted.
Regardless of what one feels about this legal proceeding and regardless of the great strides towards equality that have been made in this country, it remains true that African Americans, particularly young African American males are, in many situations, subject to profiling which leaves them vulnerable. That any citizen of this country should feel unsafe on the streets because of their race is unacceptable and must be addressed.
While we may not know what happened in Ferguson that night, we do know that this country must confront the reality of racism as it affects all of us. The question is bigger than just Ferguson. As President Obama said on Monday night: “We need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is in too many parts of this country a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color. Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country. And this is tragic because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates.”
We must continue to address the issue of racism in a pro-active way rather than just respond when a tragic event occurs. We must make progress in our goal to be a nation of equality and justice for all.
May the family of Michael Brown be comforted by real change in this country.