It is all over the news, the papers and discussed in our communities. The outcry in Ferguson has spread across the nation and has lead protesters to react in violence.
On August 9, Michael Brown, 18, was shot by police officer, Darren Wilson. Since then, protesters have come together in hopes to obtain justice for Brown. On November 24, the verdict was in. Based on the evidence provided, the grand jury came to the conclusion that Wilson was not guilty.
According to The New York Times, Brown’s family reacted with the need for change rather than retaliation, “we are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions, while we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.”
What is wrong with the system?
Let us go back to the Oscar Grant case. Jan. 1 2009, Grant was returning from a new year’s celebration in San Francisco when he and a few friends were detained for an alleged fight at the Fruitvale BART station. Officer Johannes Mehserle struggled to detain Grant and fatally shot him in the back. Mehserle’s response was that it was an accident, he meant to grab his taser.
Police Officers go through an extensive training course and are repeatedly trained on when and how to use a taser and or gun. Mehserle was charged with involuntary manslaughter and served one year on jail.
The incident was recorded and shows very little of a struggle from the officer and little remorse.
According to the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson, “The California penal code defines manslaughter as “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice.”
In California, involuntary manslaughter is punishable by a year, to a year and a half in prison with fines and probation. Mehserle received the minimum of the punishment.
Ferguson Officer, Darren Wilson was acquitted of any charges brought by the Brown case. Witnesses gave mixed information. Some say that Brown never approached the officer and one says that he charged Wilson, “making an aggravated grunting sound.”
How is this self defense when conflicting information has been provided? Furthermore, Wilson’s injuries in the image above do not appear to be life threatening.
The issue is that the people may never know what truly happened.
Many argue that the only way to prevent such cases would be to require all officers to wear a camera documenting their every move.
The Washington Post reports that while the government keeps a database on how many shark attacks there are annually, how many living pigs are on farms each year and how many officers are killed in the line of duty each year, yet there is no record of police shootings annually. They leave it up to law enforcement to keep track.
Are the people not important enough? Yet, shark attacks and living pigs are?
While many of these victims are minorities, the unlawful killings take place in poor communities. President Barack Obama speaks on the topic.
We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades, but what is also true is that there are still problems, and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.
The killings will not stop unless a change is made. Protesters continue to fight with the message, “black lives matter.”