Michael Brown was gunned down in cold blood, they say. Officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed gentle giant multiple times even as he was trying to surrender. Brown was a victim of rampant police violence caused by endemic racism, and only a racist would say otherwise.
The grand jury was given the evidence, listened to hours and hours of testimony, reviewed forensics reports, and concluded…. no. They couldn’t return an indictment to bring Wilson to trial.
Clearly another example of the racist system rigged racistly against innocent minorities.
So what to do? Riot. Burn businesses (including those owned by black people), smash police cars, drop molotov cocktails from rooftops, loot stores, burn down the town.
And hey, from the perspective of a racist cop just itching to shoot some black people, this whole mess is the perfect scenario: the justice system just said, “go for it, we won’t indict,” and then the people you’re itching to shoot just started causing mayhem. Perfect time to shoot someone, right?
But…. that didn’t happen. Even with 82 arrests, with the camera-to-person ratio in Ferguson somewhere north of 1, and with the media falling over itself to get the most sensational parts of the story out there, nothing. Even one instance of something resembling police brutality would have become THE STORY overnight.
MSNBC would have played it on a loop for days.
But… nothing. No water hoses. No videos of German shepherds snarling and attacking. No Rodney King-style beatdowns. No pictures of brutalized faces and unconscious youth with rubber bullet marks. Today’s top headline is about the ruins of businesses in still-smoldering Ferguson and the truly victimized owners coming to sweep up broken glass and survey the tatters of their livelihoods and dreams.
But no reports of police brutality during a night of mayhem that certainly lent itself to extraordinary police measures. Maybe “conspicuous by its absence” is a legitimate argument here.
Maybe, just maybe, the cops in Ferguson—and elsewhere—aren’t racists just itching to kill black people. Maybe Officer Wilson did act the best way he could in the situation and the evidence bore that out. Maybe Michael Brown was the aggressor in this case and gave Officer Wilson reason to fear for his life.
Maybe this is and has been a terrible, horrible, tragic case to use as paradigm for what really does ail relations between minority communities and police departments in so many places.
The evidence certainly seems to say so.
But that doesn’t matter to those who need this to be another flash point.
Maybe one day people will stop paying attention to the race hustlers who make their living keeping the division wide, up to and including the current occupier of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Then, maybe we can work on improving relations between people rather than just writing more rules to govern interactions—after all, police and the people in the community are persons, not cogs in a machine. Persons live in relation to one another. Relationships are built on give and take, trust given and expected, and putting aside preconceived notions.
Improved race relations means improved relations among real persons who happen to be of different racial backgrounds, not imposing the right combination of rules to prevent flash points as though one is adding the right kind of oil to prevent friction between moving parts of a machine.
Maybe this will be the flash point that gets people who are not on either side of the divide and who resent being told incessantly that there is a divide, and that their lives should be dramatically affected by it, to tell the race hustlers and all those who truly are racist pieces of scum to get lost.
Maybe. One can hope, right?