All I can do is sigh. Ferguson was like Agent Smith said in The Matrix – inevitable. The Black community wants justice. The Grand Jury wasn’t instructed to deliver justice. They were instructed to follow the law. These two things should be the same, but in this case they are not.
An encounter between Officer Wilson and Michael Brown went very wrong. Both were at fault. Only one person ended up dead. This is the reality.
Officer Wilson lacked understanding but is alive to hopefully learn to understand. MIchael Brown didn’t understand that confrontations with the police can end up very badly.
Once the shooting happened and Michael Brown ended up dead, the rest of the this story became very predictable. We have seen it dozens of times in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. We have seen officers who felt threatened and did things that made a community gasp. There are marches and calls for calm, but to little or no avail. The anger explodes. Violence. Stupid violence. Arrests. More people hurt or even killed. Nothing has changed except that some innocent bystanders have been hospitalized and property has been destroyed.
Progress was made in the ’80s and ’90s because communities came together. Communities reached out to the police and the police came to those communities wanting to get some understanding. Broken Windows policing, which basically says that no crime is too small to arrest and prosecute, has changed everything. Now, small things like jaywalking, loitering, jumping a turnstile or riding a bike on the wrong sidewalk will get you arrested. This policing tactic is only employed in the poorest of neighborhoods. The clashes with community leaders have followed. All of the good will and credibility that was built over the course of the last couple decades has been thrown in the trash.
This brings us to the present. Ferguson. Everyone is trying to do the best they can. The governor has to show that he is in charge. So he calls out the National Guard. The grand jury follows their instructions instead of their hearts and acquits a man who shot an unarmed American whose only crime was walking in the street. The community feels betrayed by the folks who have been hired to protect them. They feel disrespected by a legal process that may have been designed to treat them differently than other Americans. This formula leads to violence – riots. Inevitable.
Understanding and empathy are the only tools to fix this mess. Good luck finding these emotions in Ferguson today or tomorrow. This is going to be ugly for awhile, I’m sorry to say. This is all so sad.