Like many, I’ve watched the violence that has come to define Ferguson, Missouri these past few months. This latest round of rioting came as no surprise to me once it was determined Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted. However…and rather sadly, I believe the outcome would have been the same had Officer Wilson been indicted. Ferguson would have burned regardless.
To be fair, I know that not everyone in Ferguson is bad. Not every protester is acting violently. I know there are a lot of nameless heroes behind the scenes doing everything within their ability to help keep things peaceful. I also understand it is likely that some of those perpetrating violence aren’t even Ferguson residents. However, how a community collectively overcomes disaster is telling of its morality and character. Sadly, Ferguson’s response has been less than telling.
Michael Brown Jr’s death has now become the rallying cry for white police brutality against blacks throughout the United States. It has re-ignited racial tensions that have plagued this country from its very inception. The sensationalism of Michael Brown Jr’s death has also accomplished another thing. It has overshadowed Michael Brown Jr’s responsibility for his own death.
In a recent interview, Michael Brown Jr’s parents remembered their son as “humble, silly and soft spoken. He could fix almost anything and loved animals, his siblings and being a grandson” (Ford & Levs, 2014). From day one, Michael Brown Jr. was presented as a “good” kid, college bound with great aspirations. Yet the reality is, Michael Brown Jr. was anything but “humble, silly and soft spoken”. On August 9, 2014, he physically assaulted a store clerk. His actions were caught on camera. After assaulting said store clerk, Michael Brown Jr. shoplifted from that store. He then walked down the middle of a street like “what up I got a big…ego”. When told to get out of the middle of the street by an officer of the law, Michael Brown Jr. refused to do so. When directly confronted by that law officer, he verbally and physically assaulted that officer. To add injury to insult, concentrations of marijuana were found during Michael Brown Jr’s autopsy. Are these the actions of a good, “humble, silly and soft spoken” kid? I think not.
Michael Brown Jr. may have been a “good” kid, but his actions on August 9, 2014 suggest otherwise. On that day, Michael Brown Jr. walked down that road looking for a fight…and he found one. Were Officer Wilson’s actions excessive…yes they were. But the real question that should be asked is…why Michael Brown Jr. put himself in the position to become a victim.
Pure and simple, on August 9, 2014, Officer Wilson pulled the trigger. However, Michael Brown Jr. is responsible for his own death. His actions made him a target in an environment that seemingly doesn’t take much to make someone a target. His death wasn’t an action of white police brutality against blacks. It was an action of piss poor decision making on Michael Brown Jr’s part. Or maybe the actions of the real Michael Brown Jr.? The people of Ferguson seem to lack the ability to understand this. It is what this latest spate of violence says about the morality and character of the people of Ferguson, Missouri.
Ford, D., & Levs, J. (2014, November 27). Michael Brown’s mother: ‘This could be your child’. Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/26/justice/ferguson-grand-jury-reaction/index.html?hpt=hp_t1