We the People: After Ferguson, protests run the gamut

The situation in Ferguson, Missouri has provoked debate and different reactions from different people. The reaction you get depends on the person you speak to and the community in which they live.

White Americans, mostly from urban areas, have protested and expressed frustration for changes that may have prevented Michael Brown’s death. There are some African‑Americans that seem unable to understand the extreme outrage and actions taken during the extra legal and illegal protests after the shooting . . .

The police in the St. Louis suburb certainly mishandled the situation and the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict the white police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The November 24 rioting in Ferguson was terrible, especially when compared to the protests in other major cities where none had the same destruction.

In Chicago, a handful of protesters threatened to hold a 28‑hour sit‑in outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office but left City Hall peacefully and marched downtown after threat of arrest. It did not take tear gas or armored cars to accomplish what was needed to allow the protest but keep the peace. Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network called for a separate protest several blocks away at the federal courthouse which attracted no demonstrators.

In New York, a handful of protesters tried to disrupt the Thanksgiving Day parade but they were arrested without controversy. Reverend Al has been ubiquitous as always when there is a controversial, race-charged situation.

Does the nation really benefit from professional demonstrators? Shouldn’t citizens protest when events motivate them and not when told to by other people?

In Los Angeles, the LAPD blocked protestors without permit who were marching through the streets of downtown. The supervisors in control of the situation allowed the marchers to pass which de-escalated the confrontation and avoided another controversy.

In New York City, protestors — including 15 black, Hispanic and Asian city councilmembers who walked out of a formal meeting in City Hall — have been able to express their outrage and vent their feelings throughout the city without a major incident. That is a proper response to any unfairness perceived by people from the events in Ferguson.

The opinions of people about Police Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of Brown are distinctly distinguished by race. According to a CNN poll of over 1,000 Americans, 54 percent of nonwhites said Wilson should be charged with murder and 23 percent of whites agreed that a murder charge should have been returned.

Although it is impossible to ignore race and the effects of racism, we must never allow it to justify violence even if intended for revenge, justice or another motive. We elected an African-American man president of the United States and we zealously prosecute claims of discrimination in our nation. We can improve society with the lessons learned from the tragedy of Michael Brown’s death while at the same time we pray for his family to find comfort.

There is no way to describe that incident other than as a tragedy. If Michael was out of control and breaking the law, then he should have been arrested and returned to his family after dealing with the consequences of his actions. If he was killed merely because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, then the tragedy is even greater.


Unfortunately, at times, police activity meant to protect and safeguard the public does not always have its intended affect. In Cleveland, a police officer fatally shot a 12‑year‑old boy wielding a realistic toy gun on November 22. On November 20, a rookie NYPD police officer killed an unarmed 28‑year‑old man in a housing project in New York. The incidents will all be handled without arson or looting.

Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Brown family, reacted, “The process should be indicted. It should be indicted because of continuous systematic results that are yielded by this process.”

He could have taken the time to explain that a grand jury only decides if there is enough credible evidence to support charging someone with a crime. Some people claim that there has been no progress in race relations or discrimination since before Martin Luther King Jr. and the NAACP moved this country to adopt a civil rights movement.

Dr. King knew that the answer to hate and injustice was non-violence. He was martyred but history has proven him right. A wise man said that before beginning a journey for revenge, dig two graves — one for the person from whom you intend to seek revenge and one for yourself.

We need to be intolerant of intolerance and forget justifying violence by citing violence. The road of violence and revenge and hateful rhetoric leads only to death and destruction.

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