Last week whilst watching the news about the on goings in Ferguson Missouri, someone asked me why I cared about any of it. Her reasons; I don’t live in America, I am not American, so why should I care about what is going on there. How she walked away unscathed I don’t know, but my retort wasn’t pretty or PG enough to print.
On August 9 2014, Michael Brown Jr. and a friend, Dorian Johnson were walking in the streets when police officer Darren Wilson pulled up and asked them to move off the streets, onto the pavement. Some back and forth chatter ensued, and a physical struggle, when the officer grabbed Brown’s neck. A shot was fired from inside the police car, Brown managed to break free, and he and Johnson began to flee from the officer. The officer then got out of the car and fired another shot, at which point Brown surrendered but the officer continued shooting. New audio footage signifies a total of about ten shots fired at Brown. When Brown was down, the police officer did not call, in the shooting or for an ambulance. Brown’s lifeless body lay dead in the street for up to four hours before it was put in a black SUV and driven away.
Eight days before, Michael Brown Jr. graduated from Normandy High School and was headed for College on August 11. He was an 18 year old boy with his whole life ahead of him.
The Ferguson police department and the media have all but tainted the character of Michael Brown Jr. as if he was a cop a killer and not a victim of murder by a cop. From the pictures of him to the language used to describe him, they have put him on trial and not Darren Wilson. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter what narrative shaped moments before his death, it doesn’t matter that as a child he was no angel, wrote on the walls with pens, as this New York Times article points out, I wonder who didn’t do this. It doesn’t matter that he was “grappling with problems and promises”, who isn’t half the time? It doesn’t matter that he allegedly stole cigarettes moments prior to his murder, or shoved the convenience store clerk, wrong that was, but it is no justification for the way he was killed. If Brown was apprehended alive, the narrative would be different, but he wasn’t. The only thing that matters is that a boy was killed in cold blood by the person who has taken an oath to protect and serve the community. To protect and serve Michael Brown Jr. Darren Wilson is a killer. That is all there is to his narrative, his commendation and good record doesn’t make a bit of difference; he killed a boy.
This is a race crime, a hate crime and the Ferguson Police Department is institutionally racist for protecting Darren Wilson. Without a shadow of doubt, if Brown was white the discussions today would be different, for one, he would be alive. James Eagan Holmes shot into a theatre killing twelve people but he was apprehended alive, Michael Dunn shot and killed Jordan Davis’ he was apprehended alive, Jared Lee Loughner who shot Congress woman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others was apprehended alive. Brown wasn’t a killer, Darren Wilson was not aware that moments before he’d allegedly robbed a convenient store of a packet of cigarettes, his crime was jaywalking and maybe sass mouthing an officer. What was it that was so threatening about Brown, an unarmed teenager, that warranted him six or ten shots? The only answer I can come up with is that for Darren Wilson, Michael Brown was just another black teenager whose life didn’t matter.
The unrests and protests in Ferguson say the contrary, because Michael Brown Jr’s life matters, even in death. As do the lives of the Trayvon Martins, Renisha McBrides, Eric Garners, etc. of the world. These protests are for the countless black boys and girls, men and woman who have to live with racism every single day, those who are still being treated like three-fifths of a person because of their skin colour, regardless of class, profession, education, social standing etc.
Enough. Enough. It did not have to take the life of Michael Brown Jr. to get there, and these protests say, ENOUGH.
Michael Brown Jr. was robbed of any opportunity to make good on the promise of his life, to make his parents proud, to achieve his goals, to LIVE. He was someone’s child, someone’s brother, someone’s friend, someone’s grandson, but above all of that, Michael Brown Jr. was a human being who did not deserve the hand he was dealt. And to not care about that is a tragedy in itself, to look the other way and shrug shoulders is a disservice to humanity, and a perpetration of the intolerance that killed him.
May the soul of Michael Brown Jr. Rest In Peace and may the fight in his name continue until change comes.